Mega-Pests are Huge Threat to Crops

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Scientists discovered that agricultural pests are a huge threat to crops across the world, according to a report published on April 7, 2018.

Original pest species, cotton bollworms, and corn earworms have already led to losses that amounts to billions of dollars worth of food. A hybrid of two pests are highly resistant to pesticides and it is a major issue if it crosses international boundaries without being detected. Bollworms and earworms are closely related where bollworm has its origins in Africa, Asia, and Europe while the earworm is a native of the Americas. Both the pests are moth caterpillars and they are fed by over 100 plant species.

A team of Australian scientists who discovered the hybrid mega-pests think that a new strain can be created by a combination of international species. It will be too late by the time we detect the hybrids. Dr. Paul De Barro, a biosecurity expert said, “A hybrid such as this could go completely undetected should it invade another country.” All the nine hybrids from Brazil were found to be hybrid. However, according to the researchers, the hybridization happening in Brazil could cause severe consequences for Australia, which is a country that has had many problems with invasive species.

De Barro said, “As Australia’s national science agency, we are constantly looking for new ways to protect the nation and technology like genome sequencing, is helping to tip the scales in our favour.” A combination of pesticides is currently being employed in Australia to manage the nation’s bollworms. The scientists warned that the case in Brazil points out the threat that new ‘agriculturally problematic’ strains of pests could soon spread throughout the rest of the Americas.

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