Pest Control

Emerging Pest Threats

pest control

Emerging pests threaten plant crops and forest trees and can undermine food security. They include diseases like late blight of potato and banana rust.

Pests reduce plant growth, causing crop failures and shrinking the amount of food available for human populations. They also damage ecosystems and threaten long-term conservation of species and habitats. Check out this website at to learn more.


In most outdoor pest situations, prevention is a key strategy to reduce outbreaks. It involves actions that limit the growth of unwanted organisms, including weeds. The aim is to prevent the pests from damaging crops, gardens and landscapes. Prevention measures include crop rotation, avoiding the use of chemicals and planting genetically modified plants (GMPs). They also involve improving farm management practices such as thinning or mulching and reducing water runoff.

Biological control is the use of predators, parasites, diseases and competitors to manage pests. The use of natural enemies can be more effective than synthetic controls because it has a lower environmental impact. In addition, it can also be cheaper. Some examples of biological control include the use of birds, reptiles and mammals to feed on or parasite plant-eating pests, and the eradication of pests through pathogens that cause disease.

Climate change has been linked to increased incidence of a wide range of agricultural pests and diseases. For example, increasing temperatures have led to the expansion of the rusts that attack wheat and other cereals, resulting in lower yields and the need for more applications of pesticides. In the same way, rising CO2 levels encourage root rot and other fungal diseases of vegetables and beans.

In addition, climate change affects the distribution and outbreak potential of many existing pests. For example, the emerald ash borer killed 100 million ash trees in America, and the invasive shothole beetle is killing urban, wildland and orchard trees across the US.

Early warning systems are needed to alert farmers to pest outbreaks and improve responses. This is especially true for emerging threats like black coffee twig borer, which has caused crop damage in higher altitudes than the coffee industry is used to, and tar spot, which has been spreading at an alarming rate. New technological tools such as the suitcase-sized mobile lab MARPLE can help detect pathogens in near real-time, which would reduce response times and allow for more accurate diagnosis. Enhanced linkages between extension services, research and the private sector are also important to build capacity for rapid detection and reaction to new and emerging threats.


Pests include organisms that harm our fields and orchards, forests, landscapes and wildlands; impact human and animal health; and threaten the ecosystem. They may be plants, vertebrates (birds, rodents and other mammals), invertebrates (insects, mites and snails), nematodes, pathogens (bacteria, fungi and protozoans that cause disease) or anything else that negatively impacts the environment.

Climate change creates conditions suitable for many invasive pest species, allowing them to spread to new geographic regions. For example, mango farmers in Africa face financial ruin as the tree-drilling aphid, fruit fly and fall armyworm destroy their crops. And the emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease kill urban, suburban and wildland trees in America.

Many factors affect the success of crop pests, including food and shelter. Climate changes can alter the availability of water – essential for plant growth. It can also affect the food supply of insects, which need to feed on the same plants as their host organisms.

Features such as mountains and large bodies of water can restrict the spread of some pests, by blocking migratory routes or providing overwintering sites. Some natural enemies can also control or kill certain pests, such as the aphid, the leafhopper and the thrips that attack citrus.

Invasive insect pests such as the emerald ash borer, Dutch elm disease, hemlock woolly moth and shothole borers have been devastating to America’s forests. They kill city, suburban and wildland trees, lowering timber yields, reducing property values and threatening national security.

Some pests can be controlled using biological methods, such as parasitoids, nematodes and predators, or through genetically modified organisms. The use of resistant varieties and better cultural practices can also reduce the need for pesticides. Integrated pest management (IPM) is an approach that integrates preventive measures with control techniques when needed. IPM includes monitoring, habitat manipulation and modification of cultural practices, introducing natural enemies and making use of resistant varieties. When pesticides are used, they are applied according to established guidelines to ensure minimal risk to human health, beneficial organisms and the environment.

Increasing forest management practices that promote biodiversity and natural enemies can increase resistance to non-native pests and diseases. Implementing ecological thinning and prescribed fire to create diverse forests can also help. Strengthening import regulations for nursery stock and requiring phytosanitary certificates on wood packaging materials can limit the movement of pests from one region to another.


Whether it’s plant-feeding pests or disease organisms, monitoring can provide valuable information to help reduce the threat of damaging outbreaks. Monitoring is done with traps, scouting, or by visual inspection. The frequency of monitoring depends on the value of plants and how quickly a problem can develop, as well as the life cycle of the pest (whether it has several generations per year or a single one). For example, it might be appropriate to monitor a privacy hedge less often than an orchard. Monitoring should also consider environmental conditions, especially temperature and moisture levels. These factors can influence pest populations by affecting growth or restricting movement, and can indicate when the numbers of a particular pest will reach damaging thresholds.

In nature, many insects and weeds have natural predators, parasitoids, and pathogens that keep their numbers below damaging levels. However, in some areas of the world, these natural controls are absent. For example, in the United States, gypsy moths and Japanese beetle grubs have few natural predators. In these cases, controlling pests through cultural and biological methods is the only way to prevent them from out-competing other species for food sources or destroying landscape plants.

Pest control strategies include the use of resistant varieties of plants, woody material, or animals. In addition, certain chemicals can make plants or their structures less attractive to pests by changing their chemical composition. Pheromones can also be used to repel or confuse pests.

Weather conditions also influence pest behavior and population levels. For instance, rainfall, freezing temperatures, and extreme heat or drought can slow or stop the growth of the plant-eating pests they target. In addition, wind and prevailing temperature changes can affect pest activity by dispersing them or driving them back to their overwintering sites.

Other landscape features, such as mountains or bodies of water, can limit the spread of some pests. So can the availability of overwintering sites or places to hide from predators. Similarly, climate influences pest populations by limiting the number of days when a plant is suitable for reproduction, or by providing abundant food sources and shelter.


Depending on the circumstances, treatment may be used in combination with prevention and suppression as a way to mitigate the damaging effects of an invasive pest. Eradication is a rare goal in outdoor pest situations, but it is often the target when a foreign pest is accidentally introduced and not yet established in an area (Mediterranean fruit fly, gypsy moth, fire ants). It is more common for plants in enclosed areas to be treated against invasive organisms such as nematodes, viruses, fungi, and insects.

Climate change is facilitating the proliferation of new crop pests, especially insect pests that have invasive characteristics. These include tree-drilling beetles, leaf-munching flies, and fruit-puncturing worms. The new pests are causing food and financial ruin for farmers in Africa, as they destroy their crops.

The weather, including temperature, day length, and humidity, affects pests directly by influencing the growth rate of their host plants. Rain, freezing temperatures, or drought can reduce pest populations. Predatory or parasitic insect and insect-like species can also suppress some pests by feeding on them, and pathogens can kill or infect plant-eating pests.

In addition, geographic features such as mountains and large bodies of water restrict pest movement and limit their food supply, shelter, or places to overwinter. The availability of water can also influence the growth rate and reproduction rates of some pests. Finally, the availability of natural predators and prey, and roosting sites can significantly affect the viability of some pests.

Aside from enhancing the effectiveness of preventive measures, a holistic CSPM approach can contribute to reducing pest damage by improving the agroecosystem health and boosting resilience in the face of emerging threats. For example, improving soil quality, reducing erosion, and increasing the biodiversity of the landscape can help to reduce pest pressure by providing a better environment for the predators and prey that control pest populations. Similarly, training farmers in integrated pest management can increase their capacity to deal with pests. This includes building their technical skills and empowering them to take decisions in managing their own farms, rather than relying on external advice.