Calif. Climate Change To Trigger More Pesticide Use, Fouling Waterways

"Warmer temperatures would boost pest populations, causing farmers to use more insecticides that, with more frequent and severe storms, turn into toxic runoff."

"Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops.

Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways.

The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought.

Temperature strongly influences insect growth, development and reproduction, while carbon dioxide can affect insect feeding behavior. Higher temperatures will allow some insects to mature faster, helping them fit in extra generations and spend more time flying around fields, reproducing and feeding on crops. They include the moth that can destroy nearly a third of an almond or pistachio crop as larvae. Higher carbon dioxide levels can boost the growth of crops, only to give their primary pests more to eat."

Liza Gross reports for Inside Climate News May 10, 2021.

Source: Inside Climate News, 05/11/2021