Even crop-damaging pests such as beetles, moths, bacteria, worms, fungi and other pests are trying to escape from the Earth's excessive heat. A study released by Exeter University in the UK on Sunday showed that the pests have been racing to either the north or south poles at an average speed of 3 kilometres a year or a rate of more than 25km a decade since 1960.
The spread of the crop-damaging pests, compared to most wild animals and plants, maybe quicker because humans are accidentally moving them along with the harvests, the researchers noted in their study that was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
"Pest species are constantly being shifted around the world by trade...We are giving them a helping hand," Dr Dan Bebber, the lead author of the study from the University of Exeter, said. A tiny pest can be carried inadvertently on a train, truck or airplane to any new area, he noted.
As global temperatures continue to rise, food security could escalate, the researcher said, noting that at present, between 10 per cent and 16 per cent of the world's crops are already lost to disease outbreaks.
"Global food security is one of the major challenges we are going to face over the next few decades," Mr Bebber said.
"If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms, the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security."
"We really don't want to be losing any more of our crops than is absolutely necessary to pests and pathogens."
Some examples of the crop-damaging pests that have moved elsewhere include the fusarium head blight, also called scab, which has now emerged as a threat to the United States wheat production.
Another is the rice blast fungus, present in over 80 countries, which has now moved to wheat.
There's also the mountain pine beetle which has moved into newly warmed habitats in the US Pacific northwest.
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