Pests Evolve Quickly, and Not Just to Chemicals
From the latin “pestis” it means a deadly curse, or bane, or disease – a pest bring trouble with it in any environment. Modern science has found that this definition is more precise than ancient people could have imagined, because common insect pests are able to evolve and adapt resistance to all sorts of adverse conditions.
Insects can develop resistance to chemicals, which is why new pesticides are always under production. But there are other surprising ways in which living creatures (not all of them pests) develop resistance.
One of the most unusual examples is grass. It actually develops resistance to being mowed. New varieties try strategies to bloom and procreate before the next mower comes along, including growing sideways long enough to flower.
Cockroaches are a prime example of a pest that has a behavioral adaptation, rather than a biological one. Pest control has used glucose (sugar) in its chemical roach-killing compounds for long enough that roaches now habitually – almost reflexively – avoid any substance with sugar in it.
Western corn rootworms used to be deterred by crop rotation. When soybeans replaced wheat every other season, the rootworm was unable to adapt. But new research shows that by producing more of a specific proteinase, the rootworms evolved the ability to live on soybean plants just long enough to reproduce.