It was during the nineteen fifties that pesticide use became a thing, and it changed the lives of farmers, and consumers, for the better. However, each decade since the 1950s has seen an increase in the amount of crops destroyed by insects. So what does this mean? It is a pretty strong indication that insecticides are not working as well as they once had.
The reason is not a problem with the insecticide. Insecticides are the same as they have always been. Instead the problem is evolution and mutations. Imagine a field with one million aphids going to work on some corn. An angry farmer notices and spreads insecticides all over his crops. Problem solved right? Well, for a while anyway. Of all those millions of aphids killed, there could have been one or two that developed a mutation that made them resistant to insecticides. So those two aphids live and reproduce to make twenty aphids, and then after several generations, all of the aphids without the mutation died, and all you have left are crops full of super aphids that cannot die.
Of course experts are at work creating newer and better pesticides, but that may take a while, and it is not a complete solution since insects can become resistant to new ones after time as well. But the speed at which insects develop resistance can be slowed tremendously by making a few slight changes to your pesticide regimen. First, you can switch up your pesticides, so that even bugs with mutations will be killed by a second pesticide. Another similar method involves mixing your pesticides just as long as the labels say that doing so is ok. The bugs don’t have us beat yet, so do whatever you can to slow their proliferation until the scientists develop the atom bomb of all pesticides.
If mutations are random changes in an organism’s DNA, then how is it that bugs always seem to get a mutation that allows them to survive insecticides when they could have gotten millions of other mutations that likely would not have been beneficial?