In recent years, atmospheric temperature has been on the increase and extreme heat events have occurred frequently, which may not only affect the growth and development of individual organisms but also disturb the inter-species balance in competition, predation and parasitism, thereby exerting deleterious impacts on biodiversity and the ecosystem. Many studies have concluded that global warming may well exacerbate phytophagous pest infestations, promote their population growth and geographic expansion, and thus increase the frequency of pest outbreaks, which will constitute a grave threat to agricultural production. As an important means of pest management, conservative insect-mediated biological control is apparently experiencing the effects of climate change. It is equally noteworthy that temperature increase is affecting the biology, predation ability, inter-species relationships, and molecular mechanisms of natural enemies.
The mirids Cyrtorhinus lividipennis and Tytthus chinensis are two natural predators feeding primarily on the eggs of planthoppers and leafhoppers in rice paddy fields. They are important endogenous biological control factors in rice ecosystems. ZHU Zengrong, a professor at the Zhejiang University College of Agriculture and Biotechnology, led his team to study the effects of thermal stress on these predators. Their research findings are published online in an open-access article entitled "Consequences of elevated temperature on the biology, predation, and competitiveness of two mirid predators in the rice ecosystem" in the August 6 issue of the Journal of Pest Science.