Global warming is affecting plants, animals, and insects in ways we are just starting to understand. Unfortunately, not all species will be affected equally, and some of the worst pests of garden crops may thrive.
New research from the University of Illinois indicates that as carbon dioxide levels increase with global warming, so do populations of Japanese beetles. Researchers exposed soybeans to normal (380 parts per million) and high (550 parts per million) levels of CO2 in the field. This high level of CO2 is expected to be the norm in our atmosphere by 2050. Researchers found that as CO2 levels rise, soybean plants produce more carbohydrates and less nitrogen. Thus the pests that feed on the plants have to eat more of them to get the nutrition they need. The increase in CO2 also appears to cause Japanese beetles to live and reproduce longer, making them even more destructive. Also, at the high carbon dioxide levels, the soybeans lose their ability to defend themselves from insect attacks.
For more on this study, go to: Biology News Net.
Article published on May 5, 2008.