The impact of climate change on the spread of pests

The impact of climate change on the spread of pests

Studies have shown that global warming can increase the number and severity of insect pests and change their migration patterns. This could pose an even greater threat to global crop production.

A rise in global temperatures of just 2°C could increase crop losses in wheat, rice and corn due to pest damage by 46%, 19% and 31%, respectively. Such crop losses could be catastrophic for food security and exacerbate existing problems caused by the global pandemic.

The map shows some regions of the world where pests could become an even more difficult problem as a result of climate change.


Chinese farmers are facing an infestation by the Fall Armyworm, nicknamed the “army worm” for its massive invasion around the world in just a couple of years. The FAW is recognized as one of the most destructive agricultural pests today, feeding on many economically important crops, most notably rice and corn. Being a native of tropical and subtropical America, the pest prefers regions with high temperatures. As temperatures rise, the armyworm moves to new regions.

An integrated comprehensive protection strategy allows you to effectively deal with the pest. In the United States and Latin America, Bt corn is grown as a way to protect food from the damaging effects of the pest.


Studies have shown that in grain-producing countries across Europe, climate change could lead to crop losses from pests of 75% or more. France, as the largest producer of wheat and corn, is likely to be hit the hardest.

Crop protection products are vital to maintain the yield of wheat and other crops in Europe. Without them, European farmers could lose more than $4 billion a year.

United States

Mexican psyllid (Asian citrus psyllid) causes serious damage to citrus plants and is a vector for citrus landscaping disease. This pest has been recorded in many US states, including Florida, with its multi-billion dollar citrus production, as well as areas such as Puerto Rico and Guam. Scientists have found that the disease it carries spreads faster within a certain temperature range, meaning more zones could be at risk due to climate change.

To combat the diseases this pest spreads, a team at the University of Florida is developing a Bt citrus fruit that is resistant to citrus gardening.


In February 2020, the Australian government confirmed that Fall Armyworm had been recorded in the country for the first time. Populations of this pest spread en masse after periods of drought, and with climate change increasing the intensity of these dry periods, it is possible that pest development will increase as a result.

In April 2020, armyworm was found in corn, sorghum and soybeans. The Australian Pesticide Authority has registered a new insecticide to protect crops from pests.

East Africa

FAO said the Desert Locust surge poses a serious threat to food security and livelihoods in Africa. Studies have shown that global warming leads to an increase in the number of locust populations, causing irreparable damage to Africa.

CropLife International is partnering with FAO and others to help farmers understand the benefits of crop protection products available in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania for pest control.

Latin America

National Geographic says corn farmers in Brazil will lose nearly 16% of their crop due to climate change. Pests are a key cause of declining crop yields in Brazil. A hotter climate would be even more ideal for pests such as Diatraea saccharalis, a moth found in warmer parts of South America. Brazilian agronomist and farmer Gabriela Nichel says: “Proper application of preparations, crop rotation and no-ploughing techniques are a combination of success in the fight against diseases and other pests.”

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