Ecological and Economic Importance of Bats in Integrated Pest Management
Agricultural insect pests cost the U.S. agricultural industry $33 billion per year in crop losses, and destroy approximately 25-50% of crops worldwide. This trend continues despite an increased use of pesticides in recent decades on farms throughout the world. Broad-spectrum pesticides are dangerous to human health, degrade ecosystem function, upset carefully optimized integrated pest management (IPM) programs, and devastate natural insect predators and parasitoids. In addition, the World Resources Institute estimates that up to 400 agricultural pest species may have evolved some degree of pesticide resistance. One effort to limit pesticide includes the use of biological control agents, which are living organisms that prey upon pest species. While proven effective in some cases, biological control comes with significant economic costs and typically offers only partial control. Biological control agents are typically non-native species and may have long-lasting negative effects on native biodiversity.
Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension
Ecosystem services, crop protection, biological control