In the concept of agriculture, pests are naturally occurring organisms that cause damage to field crops, livestock and other farm resources. Pests are classified into insects, rodents, animals, and Birds. Beetles belong to the class of insects that can have adverse effects on agricultural production, storage, marketing, and the environment. Pests may cause problems with crop damage parasitic infection or cause discomfort and toxicity to human health.
Insect pests possess chewing mouthparts through which they cause severe damage to field crops and stored products after harvesting. The process of insect pest damage particularly beetles is done through direct feeding on the plant root and shoot leading to loss of weight and yield quality. Some species bore into the seed endosperm resulting in poor seed germination and reduced viability. Harvested grains lose quality and market value from their damage.
Beetles belong to the order Coleoptera and are a vast group of insects that endanger harmful insects after harvesting of great economic importance: several types of beetles attack crops in both fields and at stores. Beetles are found in diverse habitats including farms and storehouses. Those associated with stored products show different behaviors; some of them are primary and secondary pests such as genus Sitophilus and Tribolium that feed directly on stored harvests while others are predators that feed on other insects.
Other insect groups such as Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) causes damage only at the adult stage but Coleoptera (beetles) crop damage is inflicted at both larvae and adult stages. Larvae and adults can chew the leaves, and growth apex, underground roots and stems depending on the species. Thus, they alter the physiological processes required for plants growth and development.
Types of Beetle pests
There are many species that cause damage to plant and stored products but are classified into four major groups. These are Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles), Cerambycidae (longhorn beetles), Scarabaeidae (scarab beetles) and Carabidae (ground beetles)
Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles) are found all over the world, but more attributed to the tropics. They have an oval shape and short legs with antennas around half the length of the body measuring less than 12 mm.
Chrysomelidae (leaf beetle)
Cerambycidae (longhorn beetles) are a broad family of beetle insects characterized by extremely long antennas, usually longer than the body.
Cerambycidae (longhorn beetle)
Scarabaeidae (scarab beetles) are often black or brown in color. Tropical species are usually bright colors and covered with many body marks. The beetles have a thick oval shape and three pairs of legs. They possess hard front wings called elytra used in self-defense to protect themselves from predators.
Scarabaeidae (scarab beetle)
Carabidae (ground beetles) are often found within the soil regions and can be recognized easily when sighted through their long legs and elytra (wings) either black or brown in color with body ridges along the central line.
Carabidae (ground beetle)
Management and pest control of Beetles
Most pests including beetles can significantly increase their number in a relatively short time. Beetles infect a farm severely when the environment is suitable for their living. As with other pests, Beetles can be controlled organically or with chemicals called pesticides. It is important to ensure proper weed control as beetles tend to hide around leaves and root region of weeds. Crop rotation can also be done occasionally to reduce the rate of pest infestation. Shifting cultivation can also help to reduce the pressure of harmful pests. Chemical pesticides can be applied if the number of pests is increasing and infestation persists. Ensure to use recommended pesticides and apply as written on the pesticide label to maintain the health of your plants and farming environment.