Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded scientists at Rothamsted Research have shown how long-term data collected by the Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS) are crucial for linking national scale changes in the climate with the changing behaviour of Britain’s insects.
In a Journal of Animal Ecology paper, published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of collecting long-term data on Britain’s insect populations, the RIS team show that trends towards a warmer climate are dramatically altering the biological responses of aphids.
The first flights of all 55 aphid species studied were found to be occurring earlier and 85 per cent of aphids showed increased duration of their flight season. Importantly, the seasonal timing of these migrations was shown to be statistically linked to a changing temperature, an indication of the impact of a changing climate on pests.
Research leader Dr James Bell said: "The power of the new generation of statistical models means that we can now have a deep insight into aphid populations on a grand scale. In this paper we are able to study nearly 12 million aphids across 55 species and get a general pattern of their migration."
The researchers also made an assessment of how many aphid species have been recorded by the survey to date and also examined the probability of recording new species into the network. From the known UK aphid fauna, 81.5 per cent of species have been recorded.
In a companion paper Onwards and Upwards - aphid flight trends follow climate change, published from Harper Adams University, recognised the impact of the research and the value of the suction-trap network to pest science.
Westland Horticulture says consumers can tackle the rise in aphids noted by the research by using Resolva Bug Killer.
Brand manager Amy Lawrence said: "Aphids are one of the most common gardening pests and can cause damage to plants by feeding on sap, causing the plant to weaken, distorting its growth. Aphid infestations are common and set to increase."