Recent models are telling us that, as our climate warms up, herbivores and pests will cause increased damage to agricultural crops. One study predicted that crop yield lost to insects increases 10 to 25 percent for every 1 degree Celsius increase.
Michigan State University scientists think that these models are incomplete and that we may be underestimating the losses. A new study shows that infested tomato plants, in their efforts to fight off caterpillars, don't adapt well to rising temperatures. This double-edged sword worsens their productivity.
According to the study, two factors are at play. The first is rising temperatures. Insect metabolism speeds up with heat and they eat more. Also, warmer temperatures could open up a wider range of hospitable habitats to insects.
Second, and this is what current models ignore, is how the infested plants react to the heat.
Read on: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200121133319.htm