There are many different kinds of destructive pests, from termites that eat your home’s structure to bed bugs that bite you while you sleep. Some of the worst, however, are pests that feed on plants. Agricultural pests can not only ruin gardens, but they can also ruin entire crops meant to feed hundreds of people. Every year, farmers combat a variety of pests to make sure their fruits, vegetables, and grains grow successfully.
Here are some of the most destructive pests in agriculture:
Locusts are notorious in the agriculture industry. These pests date back to the 2000s BC and caused the destruction of some of the very first crops. Today, they continue to be a threat to nearly every type of plant. When conditions are just right, locusts gather into huge swarms (up to 460 square miles in size!) and devour the plants around them. And since they can eat their weight in plants each day, the destruction is devastating.
Japanese beetles actually aren’t pests in Japan, but once they were introduced to New Jersey in 1916, they became major problem for farmers in the eastern U.S. These beetles feed on around 300 species of plants and often feed in groups. They emerge from the ground and begin their food conquest in June. They only feed for 4-6 weeks, but in that time, they can do enough damage to cause significant concern.
While not technically crickets, Mormon crickets got their name because they invaded crops of Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake area in the mid-1800s. These pests have sharp, powerful mandibles and prefer shrubs and grasses, but also feed on field and forage crops, fruit trees, and grains. When conditions are just right, Mormon crickets can be found in “outbreaks” that can last anywhere from 5-20 years.
The term “true bug” can refer to any one of 50,000-80,000 insect species, but the most popular true bugs are aphids and whiteflies. These pests are known to tap into plants and feed on their sap, which weakens the plants (especially when these true bugs attack in large numbers), but they also feed on their stalks and flowers. While devastating on their own, they can also spread diseases and harmful viruses to plants that can damage them even further.
Corn is an incredibly significant crop in the U.S. (especially in the midwest) and corn rootworms have been a more recent problem for farmers because of their resistance to pesticides. While more like a beetle than a worm, these pests emerge from the ground in June and July and begin their destruction of corn silk and leaves. What’s more is they also immediately lay eggs throughout the crop, so growing corn on the same land year after year makes the problem worse.
Colorado Potato Beetle
The Colorado potato beetle has been a nuisance because of its resistance to insecticides. In fact, it’s developed a resistance to more than 50 insecticides in just 50 years, making the damage it causes uncontrollable. As its name states, the beetle feeds on potato crops, but they can also feed on tomatoes and eggplants. Both adults and larvae enjoy the plant foliage, but can also feed on the stalks and the fruit or vegetables themselves. If left alone, these beetles can ruin entire crops at a fast pace.
While you probably think about stink bugs being a pest in your home, they’re actually a major threat to crops. They feed on the stems and leaves of plants and the juices of fruits and vegetables including apples, peaches, berries, peppers, and beans. They can also feed on pecans, sorghum, and cotton and severely cut into all of these crop yields.