By Eunice Nwankwo
YESTERDAY, was World Pest Day, a multinational event created to raise the status of the pest Management Industry among the general public.
This year is the second time the World Pest Day is celebrated. The Confederation of European Pest Management Associations (CEPA) has joined forces with FAOPMA (Australasia) and NPMA (USA), its counterparts around the globe, to create awareness with citizens all over the world for the important role the Professional Pest Management Industry plays in protecting public health and keeping citizens, homes, schools, recreational areas from diseases prevention.
Among the people that lectured yesterday was Roberto Pereira on “Impacts of Climate Change On Pests And Structural Pest Management.” He came from the University of Florida.
Insects become pests or pestiferous because man has upset the balance of nature through necessity or ignorance. Where the common necessity such as food is in short supply, serious competitions may result.
Therefore, man’s most serious competitor for food are the insects and any insect or animal that feeds on any part of plants, animals or their products in which man has an economic or aesthetic interest is recognized as a pest.
According to Chukwunenye Anene, in his lecture titled, “Insect and Man: Species Diversity and Interactions”, “To produce more effective food for himself, he must reduce the destruction caused by insects and disease especially, because man’s most serious competitor for food are the insects”.
Stressing further, Prof. Anene said, “It has been established that insects are the only animals giving man a real battle for supremacy. They have been on earth about 360 million years and have developed special adaptations to live under many environmental conditions but man has been on earth for a much shorter period of time and is supposed actually to be an “intruder”.
For the fact that man and pests share the same world, there is a constant interaction between man and pests. Anene argued that from the day man provided shelter for his family, he was accompanied by insect pests. Insects exist in many households, they are attracted by food odours or presence of man. The most common insect pest in our homes are the cockroaches. Examples of cockroaches include, German cockroach, American cockroach, Oriental cockroach. They damage our books and starched materials. No one wants it in his food areas , people don’t eat it.
During his lecture, Anene stressed that insects (pests) have been blamed for more things than they are responsible for and they are nothing but agents of destruction and disease transmitters.
Continuing, Anene said, “Man is a creature always in search of food. History is filled with evidence of man’s precarious position in the face of famine and disease. Causing much of this trouble have been the pests that devour man’s crops, feed on his livestock, suck his blood and infect him with diseases.
Such pests as rats do eat food stuff and properties, as squirrels, monkeys eat farm crops and capable of destroying vegetables.”
One may wonder how insects (pests) thrive in more environments than other groups of animals. They can depend on any environmental resources as food. They eat the choicest foods on man’s table and can eat the table too.
Another reason for their success is that pests have power of perception and mobility, respond to radiations, sound, chemical substances and tactile stimuli. The ability to perceive these stimuli, combined with mobility enable insect pests to find suitable foods, habitat, adjustment to temperature and humidity changes, mates, locate or avoid enemy, and disperse from their homes. They also reproduce rapidly because they lay numerous eggs in quick succession. For example, the Queen termite is able to lay 60 eggs per second, resulting in about 216,000 eggs in an hour and the queen bee lays 2000 to 3000 eggs a day.
According to Anene, insect pests transmit diseases to man, damage useful plants, stored goods. They cause premature leaf fall, destroying seed completely by sucking immature seeds, thus reducing food reserves and distort the plant growth. Insect’s damage to stored grains is final and without compensatory adjustment as in field crops. When the grain is to be used as human food, it losses values and is contaminated with farces, odours, webbing, dead pests, cast skins and fragments in manufactured products.
Major stored grain pests include the rice weevil, the maize weevil, the granary weevil while other pests such as house flies are distributed throughout the world. The most commonly encountered is Musca domestical which transmit diseases, such as dysentery, typhoid, cholera, trachoma, yaws, infective hepatitis amongst others when flies perch on organic wastes that are not properly disposed.
Researchers established that mosquitoes transmit yellow fever, malaria. The Bufalo causes a sickness known as River Blindness, filarial infection, Tse tse fly transmits sleeping sickness and is an active blood sucker, rats cause Lassa fever when rats urinate on foods while people dread monkey for its pox.
Pests compete with man in so many of their activities that one tends to forget their beneficial attributes, which include, most plants which provide fruits, seeds, vegetables, flowers depends upon insects to pollinate them. This is why insects visit flowers. The bees and butterflies are the common facilitators of this process. The bees produce honey.
Insects provide essential food for many animals including man and fishes. It has been known for centuries that insects are eaten as delicacies in many parts of the world, even in biblical times, when Moses permitted the Israelites to eat locusts, crickets, grasshoppers. People also eat Squirrel.
Other uses of pest is that both the female termites and soldier termites, yaw beetle, the adults and larvae species of the palm, the coconut, the raffia and oil palms could be fried and served as food.
Many kinds of pests have been reputed to possess medicinal properties though in the annals of quackery than in pages of official pharmacopoeias some curative powers were attributed to nearly every known insect. For example, it was thought that the bite of a cricket would remove warts. Woodlice swallowed alive as a remedy for serofulous symptom and diseases of liver and digestive organs.
At one time, the churchyard beetles prepared in oil were used in the Middle East as a remedy for ear ache and an antidote for the poison of scorpions. In Russia, powdered cockroaches were recommended as a treatment for dropsy. The horns of the stage beetle were formerly prescribed for pain and convulsion. Specific medicine APIS extracted by the bodies of honey bees is used for treatment of hives, diphtheria, scarlet fever and oedema. People also believe that Bee stings can afford a valuable remedy for rheumatism amongst others.
Yet, a woman farmer who resides at Amawbia, Awka South Local Government Area argued that, “for squirrels to invade a corn and cassava farm and eat up almost all the farms produce is painful, “I am yet to be convinced that pests are useful.”