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May ​2020​

Bugs and Plant Health​

Keeping plants healthy is critical for sustainable food production and vibrant natural areas. Plant diseases and environmental stresses like drought or heat negatively impact plant health. So do insect pests. While some insect pollinators like bees and butterflies are important to crop productivity, insect pests can devastate urban landscapes, forests, and wildlands; harm crop productivity; and reduce food quality. Insects can also spread some plant diseases by serving as vectors for viruses and bacteria. And invasive insect pests demand costly and extensive management responses, often with mixed effectiveness. Keeping plants healthy requires informed management strategies for insect pests that are based on their biology and limit impacts to beneficial insects and other organisms.

Globally, scientists study insect biology and their impacts on plant health. The knowledge generated can lead to nuanced and holistic strategies for insect management that include host plant resistance, modified cultural practices, and chemical controls. Identifying insect resistance in tree species or crop varieties can help plant breeders develop plants better able to defend themselves from insect pests. Changing production practices can result in more hostile environmental conditions for insect pests, reducing reproduction rates, survivability, and feeding efficiency. Understanding insect biology can help farmers and other practitioners make decisions about what chemical controls to apply and when to apply for maximum effect. This improves the efficacy of treatments and minimizes both grower and environmental costs. Science-based solutions to insect pests require investment in insect research and investment in insect research is an investment in plant health.

You can help keep plants healthy. Support public funding for all forms of plant health research. Don’t contribute to the spread of insect pests: understand and follow rules for the international, regional or local transport of plants and plant products. Learn about invasive insect pests that are impacting your local community and find out how you can contribute to public reporting efforts to track the movement of invasive insect pests. We all can play a role in keeping plants healthy!

Plant Health Is Your Health!

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