Climatic Change and pest prevention technologies

Climatic Change and pest prevention technologies

Futurcrop - 26-11-2018

The increase of temperatures due to climate change, can modificate the biological cycle of pests, varying the usual seasons of attacks and favoring short reproductive cycles and therefore multiple generations.

This new situation requires agricultural producers to use technologies that automatically control the biological development of pest in orther to have greater control over their crops. Systems such as FuturCrop acquire timely relevance and become an important tool in integrated pest management. But how the system works?


Temperature controls the rate of development of many organisms. Plants, insects or nematodes, require a certain amount of heat to change their bilogical stage. Pattern recognition systems can identify, based on climatic conditions, the development life cycle of insects and predict the next point in their life cycle. Each species has its own pattern of development and each stage of development differs for each organism. When determining the point of the following life cycle, it allows us to decide, thus obtaining the moment of greatest vulnerability of the pest obtaining the maximum effectiveness of our pest management actions.


Pest development pattern recognition systems are based on mathematical algorithms developed over the years at Research Institues and Universities. The software´s  hability for interpreting and continuously learning from the obtained results, adapting them to the specific climatological variables of each zone, helps to predict with maximum reliability the development of each pest.


Pattern recognition systems based on the real climatic condition, have shown their reliability to predict the development cycle of pests, helping us to anticipate the actions to be taken. FuturCrop is an Artificial Intelligence Expert System that can predict  the development of more than 179 pests and diseases. The software records daily the meteorological data of the location where the crop is located, draws the thermal integral of the location, and calculates the Degrees -Day accumulated for each pest and crop, sending a warning email to the producer.


Users have a record of the thermical integral from 2016, but also the development events of the pest and the dates in which said events occurred. The whole process is automated. FuturCrop notifies the user by email when egg laying occurs, or begins the larval stage, or the adult stage, the flight peaks, or any change in the biological development of the pest. And predicts the date when the next stage of the pest development is expected. The program clearly distinguishes each one of the biological events of the different generations for the same pest, allowing to determine the moments of greatest vulnerability.


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The Green Revolution, or Third Agricultural Revolution

The Green Revolution, or Third Agricultural Revolution

Futurcrop - 21-08-2018

It is constantly repeated that at present the problem of hunger in the world is not a problem of food production, but of distribution of the calories produced. And this validates a agricultural production system that predominates since the 50s, that premium at any cost the productivity per hectare. And it is true that globally agricultural production has increased the yield per acreage.


This model of intensive agricultural production was a revolution in the 50s and was the result, among others, of the work of a distinguished agronomist, geneticist and North American phytopathologist named Norman Ernest Borlaug. The different techniques that promoted the increase in agricultural productivity was called The Green Revolution, also Third Agricultural Revolution, and was based mainly on the use of varieties of high-yielding seeds, cultivated in large areas (monoculture), and the use of large amounts of fertilizers, phytoregulators and pesticides. It was all about adapting, through chemical and mechanical technology, Nature to the human needs of food production. It was the beginning of the process of industrialization in agricultural production. Borlaug is considered by many the father of modern agriculture, and in 1970 received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the eradication of hunger and malnutrition in developed countries. Also this type of agriculture made possible the internationalization of agricultural marketing.


With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, Borlaug began his work in 1945 in Sonora (Mexico), where there was a big problem with different types of blight that affected Mexican wheat fields. His research team achieved the development of wheat dwarf varieties of high yield, wide adaptation, resistant to diseases and with high industrial quality, with which Mexico markedly increased its production.


The results were considered a success by the Rockefeller Foundation, which helped spread those agricultural techniques it to other countries. In 1961 the Ministry of Agriculture of India invited Borlaug and promoted the use of a semidwarf rice variety (IR8), capable of producing more rice grains per plant under certain fertilization and irrigation conditions. As a result of this, India multiplied by 10 the yield of traditional rice, and in 10 years the cost of rice in India was halved.


The Green Revolution was a great success in the increase of cereal production, thanks to new production techniques it was possible to increase global grain production by 250%.


But the principle of increasing agricultural productivity at all costs by artificial means has nowadays almost changed entirely the process of agricultural production. High-yield cereal crops obtained by researchers, currently predominate, although their nutritional value is currently questioned (low-quality proteins, high carbohydrate content, and calories, deficiencies in essential amino acids, etc. ). Some think that these highly productive crops have impoverished the global human diet as well as the  agriculture genetic diversity (a basic component of biodiversity).


In addition, the monoculture system and industrialized agricultural production has several negative aspects that harm both producer and farmer. The genetically homogeneous monocultures increase the danger of massive attack on crops of pests and diseases, thus making habitual and repetitive the application of pesticides. In fact, similar to how agricultural productivity has grown in the world, the commercial sector that supplies chemical inputs to agriculture has grown. The massive use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides to increase the productivity of crops has caused environmental imbalances and serious problems for human health, many of them still to be determined.


The Revolution for the eradication of hunger in the world may have reduced the number of hungry people, currently it is estimated that there are around 1 billion hungry people in the world; but it is also true that there are some 1.2 billion people with obesity problems. And the costs of environmental and health are still to be determined.


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The 10 most common errors in pest control

The 10 most common errors in pest control

Futurcrop - 30-07-2018

Intensive production agriculture has favoured pest to become on of the major problems of agriculture


The intensive production agriculture has meant the development of isolated environments that benefit the development of pests, an easy source of food. And the repeated and indiscriminate use of pesticides has modified a natural environment in which pests were controlled by their predators. In addition, markets have forced the selection of certain varieties of crops by farmers, plant breeders, and hybrid producers, so that many of the cultivated varieties have been losing part of the natural defense mechanisms acquired over millions of years in that slow co-evolution process.


Erroneous or late identification of the pest.

  • Difficulty in the Identification of larval stages of pests

Generally, nymphs and larvae are more difficult to identify than adults, but if the pest is not correctly identified, it will be very difficult to apply an effective control strategy.

  • The identification of pests for the damage they cause

The easiest way to identify a pest is when damage to the plant is done, but that time is usually late to perform a treatment, and the population dynamics of the pest could  not be controlled.

  • Transboundary pests

The trade globalization of plants and crops is causing pests to move into new environments, in which they are not easily identifiable and lack their natural predators.


Late treatments due to unknowing the cycle of the biological development of pests.


To effectively controlling pests crops, forests and ornamentals it is essential to know their habitat, their eating habits and their different stages of development. It is particularly useful to know the stage of development in which the pest is most vulnerable so that the treatment is efficient from its first generations. Generally speaking, during the adult phase the pests are treated with little success: they tend to be more resistant to pesticides and could already have deposited the eggs and started a new generation.

The effect of Climate Change

Environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, etc., as well as the availability of food, can affect the life cycle of insects, thus pest control actions. Average times required for the  development of different pests are known (for example, 10 days for the complete cycle, at an average temperature of 23ºC), but Climate Change makes such calculations worthless. Autmatic monitoring of weather conditions must be done daily in order to reduce the risk of pest infestation, because an increase in temperatures causes the pests biological developmentto shorten in terms of days.


To consider pesticides as no toxic


The qualification of phytosanitary to describe pesticides is subtle, and usually used  by laboratories, but does not remove any toxicity to the products. Phytosanitary products are poisonous substances. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there is no pesticide that lacks toxicity. In fact, the lethal doses of each active ingredient of the pesticides are determined. WHO defines the degree of dangerousness according to the average lethal dose, which is the amount of the pesticide, in mg / kg / day, which causes death in half of the experimental animals (usually laboratory rats), and the results are extrapolated to human beings. But the accumulated effect of the chemicals we ingest through water, food, etc., is unknown. Especially vulnerable to the effects of pesticides are pregnant women, children and elderly people.

For this reason, pesticides should be the last resource in the integrated control of pests, always respecting the doses and deadlines set by the WHO and indicated by the manufacturer. For different reasons, the repeated and indiscriminate use of pesticides in pest control should be avoided.

Because of its potential danger, Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0 ) published in 1985, and periodically revise, the International Code of Conduct for the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, although its compliance is voluntary by countries, producers and distributors.

To consider the use of pesticides as the only treatment for controlling pest.

Chemical control is the simplest and fastest method for agriculture pest controlling, although it costs between 3% and 11% of production depending on the crop and the type of production. It consists of the preventive and repeated applications of a variable set of broad-spectrum pesticides, with predetermined doses, and according to the calendar dates, to the crops and the pests that potentially affect them. These treatments are applied according to calendar dates, even when the pest or disease is not present in the crop. The exclusively chemical control is the most likely to cause harmful effects: it can generate resistance to products in the pests themselves, with the consequent increase in production costs, can affect the health of the producer and its workers, if strict security measures are no taken, aerial applications can affect nearby populations, and can have negative environmental impacts, such as water and soil contamination, reduction of biodiversity and the extermination of the predatory fauna of the pests themselves.

Not to use protective equipment, or an erroneous use of it.

As a legal requirement, in most countries, pesticide manipulative and applicative need mandatory training, with strict regulations regarding clothing, handling, etc. FAO published in 2002 a guide on the minimum requirements for the application of pesticide:. Guide on Good Practices for the Terrestrial Application of Pesticides.


Incorrect use of pesticides that facilitate the development of resistances to chemicals insecticides


Some inappropriate procedures carried out with pesticides, such as preventive applications of insecticide, treatments established according to calendar dates, the application of erroneous doses, or increasead the number of applications have favored certain species of pests to develop resistance to chemical insecticides. In many cases pests adapted to the pesticides used for their control, surviving and generating future resistant individuals. Until the 1950s the number of insect species resistant to any of the chemicals that were used to control them was small. But with the generalization of the use of pesticides as the basic way of pest controlling, and its massive use since the 1980s, insect resistance to chemicals has already been documented in more than 500 species.

Improper storage of pesticides

According to WHO, as estimates made in 1986 (Informal consultation on the planning of a pesticide poisoning prevention strategy), each year one million people are poisoned with insecticides and 20,000 die because they ignore the risks involved in handling them. Appart from risks to human health, improper storage of pesticides has a direct impact on their effectiveness, therefore the products must be stored in their original packaging with the corresponding label and must take into account fundamental aspects related to temperature or location, as FAO published:  Manual on the storage and control of pesticide stocks.


To dispose of packages incorrectly or reuse them for other uses


For years, pesticide containers have been thrown away without proper treatment, reused them (with serious health consequences, such as driking water containers) thrown into rivers or burned in the open air, generating toxic fumes. These practices have caused environmental pollution and not a few intoxications in humans and wildlife. Frequently the containers with pesticide residues are cleaned in the rivers, causing serious problems of water pollution.


Pesticide containers should be taken to pesticide containers collection centersor, failing that, properly washed (for example, using the triple wash technique), and the pertinent procedures should be carried out before the corresponding environmental authority. FAO has some advice on pesticide packaging disposal techniques



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Insects Biological Cycle for pest control

Insects Biological Cycle for pest control

Futurcrop - 09-07-2018

Could be distinguished two groups in the development cycle of pests, depending on their biological stages



Those pests go through three stages in their biological cycle:

  • eggs
  • nymphs
  • Adults

In all the stages of development of the insect, they resemble each other, develop in the same place on the plant and feed on the same parts of it. Using chemical treatments, nymphs and adults are usually eliminated, but usually the plague survives in the egg stage. Therefore, reinfestation depends on the survival of the eggs and the colonization of new populations.


To control the pest should be enough with 2 conventional treatments, 2 applications of agrochemicals, but that is not the usual because they are pests that can be fed from a large number of plants (which are also necessary to control). It is essential to have a tool that allows us to identify the pest, even in the egg phase, and have information that allows us to predict its future development to carry out appropriate preventive actions.



Those are insects whose biological cycle passes through 4 stages:

  • egg
  • larva
  • pupa
  • adult

This type of pests is characterized because there is a great morphological difference in its different phases of development, they inhabit in different places of the plant in each phase, and feed differently on the plant. That differenciation of behaviour on its different development stages is a biological mechanism that has a great survival success because its different phases do not compete with each other.


But this ability to survive can cause serious problems for crops. Usually farmers only apply treatments when they manage to identify the pest or when there is already abundant damage to the crops. Generally chemical treatments only eliminate the pest in its adult phase or in the larval stages, but the most developed larvae, eggs and pupae usually survive the treatments.

In addition, broad-spectrum pesticides are often used to control them, which are very harmful to the natural predators of pests.


Due to this strategy for survival of these pests, it is common their constant reinfestations in crops. In dipterus or coleopteran larvae, etc. it is very important to know, control and prevent the development of the biological cycle of the pest in order  to be able to carry out treatments (chemical or biological) that eliminate more than one of its stages of development. But identifying the species of the pest type, or determining the specific time of larval development is difficult. For this reason, FuturCrop, the software for calculating the development of the biological cycle of 179 pests, is essential to perform efficient pest control, as it sends risk messages, allows the pest to be identified from the egg stage, minimizes the risks of reinfestation, and therefore allows to reduce the costs of the treatments.


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When a pest reduces the rentability of maize production

When a pest reduces the rentability of maize production

Futurcrop - 03-07-2018

Every year the same situation is repeated: uncontrolled infestations of the armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) attacking the maize crops of South America and Central America, Africa, India, etc., in large farming areas and causing huge losses to producers.
The attacks of the armyworm are endemic in those areas where the climate is favorable for its development: temperatures above 25ºC and relative humidity less than 60%. The lack of rains also favor their rapid development. And the treatments against agricultural pests, preventive or fixed by calendar dates, have very little effectiveness and favor the resistance of pests to pesticides.


If we consider 5 mt/ha as an average yield in mechanized maize, the losses that can be caused by the fall armyworm can reach the 40%, ie losses of approximately USD416 per hectare, at an average price of 2018. In tropical and subtropical regions, the damages are regularly greater than 60%. In large areas, such as the ones we are talking about, it involves losses of hundreds of billions of $USD.


If under normal conditions, 2 or 3 treatments can be made per season, with a cost of $ USD 109 / MT, an attack of the plague can increase them up to 5 or 7, increasing its cost to $ USD 211 / MT. In fact, in some cases, up to 10 applications can be needed to control the pest. And the cost of the treatment can exceed the sale price of the harvest itself.
Crops losses and the increase in the use of pesticides are repeated annually, with continuous indebtedness of the producer.
However, the attacks of this plague can be controlled without serious problems, as long as the monitoring and treatment actions are carried out in a timely manner. Because most treatments are carried out too late, when the larva is already protected inside the plant.



The optimal moment of treatment is before the larva develops more than 1.5 cm (that is, the third larvae instar). At that moment the larvae lodge in the spike, or other parts of the plant, depending on the time of the crop, making it difficult to be reached by the pesticide. 

Instar L1 (recién)


Instar L1


Instar L2


Evolución instar L2


Instar L3


Evolución instar L3

In general terms, the larval period of the armyworm lasts an average of 14-22 days, generally passing through six or seven larval instars. The complete cycle (from egg to adult) lasts approximately between 24 and 40 days. But not every year the changes in its development occur in the same dates, because obviously the weather conditions that affect its biological cycle vary annually. Usually larvae go unnoticed until they reach 20 to 25 mm, when they are detected by the damage they cause, which is usually in the sixth instar larva.

The adequate control of the pest does not require repeating treatments, or changing chemical products, but of having the capacity to determine when to treat.

FuturCrop is a software that uses the relationship between the weather conditions and the development of the pest, to calculate the date on which changes occur in the biological cycle of the armyworm. FuturCrop calculates and predicts the dates when the armyworm reaches the events of oviposition, egg hatching, 6 instar larvae, pupae and adults.

An adequate control of the plague is possible, simply knowing the mechanisms of nature, automating the collection of data, calculating the dates of the events and warning the producer, so that he can make the appropriate decisions.



Note: Big agrochemical companies are changing the strategy of their sales campaigns. Their communication campaigns now speak of the current / future control of maize pests, eliminating pesticides in agriculture through the commercialization of genetically modified seeds. As they already own their intellectual property, they intend to appropriate the germplasm of maize.


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Identification of lepidopteran larvae of agricultural importance

Identification of lepidopteran larvae of agricultural importance

Futurcrop - 26-06-2018

The identification of immature stages of Lepidoptera is possible, but the literature on this is rather scarce. Through FuturCrop's automated and continuous calculation of the phases of the biological cycle of the pests, the genus and species of the pests can be determined, without the need to finish the complete biological cycle, even in the case of pests that have a prolonged biological cycle (larval development can last between weeks and years, depending on the case). The agricultural pest control software sends notices to the user when there are modifications in the phases of the development of the pests and, in this way, through the software it is possible to control the population development, to determine the optimal moment and the opportune way of treatment for your control. Save costs and optimize production.


Lepidoptera are the taxonomic order of insects with more species considered of economic importance due to their pest effect in agriculture. Although the order contains more than 150,000 described species, and it is estimated that they can reach 255,000, there are thirteen superfamilies with species that constitute pests. The damage that the pests of the order Lepidoptera cause to the crops happens fundamentally during its larval phase.


Adults of the order Lepidoptera are, with some exceptions, easy to identify. These are insects with two pairs of wings covered by flat scales, which also cover a good part of the body. But adult lepidoptera do not cause damage to crops, since in most cases they feed on the juices of flowers. The larvae, on the other hand, have a chewing mouth, with which they usually defoliate, drill or perforate the vegetables (see table I). For the survival of this order of insects it is very important that larvae and adults of lepidoptera do not share the same habitat or the same food.








Vegetable Species



Lasiocampidae, Saturnlidae


Fruit trees, oak groves





Fruit trees




Leafminers, borers

Fruit trees, hotalizas, hebaceous





Fruit trees and ash trees



Artiidae, Lymantriidae, Notuidae, Notodontidae, Thaumetoposeidae

They are usually cutters. They attack leaves and fruits, bulbs, tubers and roots. They also attack the inside of the stems. Forest pests can be defoliators

Vegetables, cereals, forestry



Nymphalidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae


Vegetables and fruit trees




Stem borers in horticultural crops and fruits

pine and citrus










Solaceas and vineyards



Gracillaliidae, Lyonetiidae


Citrus and fruit trees




Buds and buds drills in forestry. In agriculture they feed on leaves, shoot drillers, fruits and seeds

attack leaves (rolling them with silk threads), flower buds, buds and fruits

Pinnaceae and agricultural crops



Plutellidae, Yponomeutidae

Buds and buds drills in forestry. In agriculture they feed on leaves, shoot drillers, fruits and seeds

attack leaves (rolling them with silk threads), flower buds, buds and fruits






Fruit trees

Table I. Elaborated from agricultural and forest pests, Jesús Selfa and Jorge Luis Anento, Bol. S.E.A. No. 20 (1997): 75-91

When the organism passes from a very premature and different phase of the final organism (ie larvae) to adults, the process is called holometabola metamorphosis. This type of metamorphosis has great evolutionary success, since larvae and adults feed differently, and therefore there is no competition for resources between organisms of the same species. In addition to lepidoptera, coleotpera (beetles) also perform a holometalic metamorphosis, hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants) and diptera (flies and mosquitoes).


FuturCrop is the first software that helps with the identification of the species from the beginning of the pest, and the planning of the optimal time of treatment (both chemical insecticides and biological control methods)






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Related links:


HOSTS - a Database of the World´s Lepidopteran Hostplants (Lepidoptera drill-down search, y hostplant drill-down search)






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Agricultural pest control in their larval stages

Agricultural pest control in their larval stages

Futurcrop - 29-05-2018

The identification of the pest species that attacks our crops, and the recognition of each state of biological development, is one of the fundamental aspects for and adequate  control. Generally 85% of the pests that attack crops belong to orders that develop as larvae. And it is the immature states that cause the most damage to crops. The pupa, the intermediate state between the larva and the adult, does not feed and its mobility is almost nil. In fact, 60% of damage cause by pests ins done during  their larval stage. That is so because it is the state of growth and most active feeding, it is the phase in which insects consume more food, and usually the phase that lasts the longest. The food consumed by the larva is much higher in the last instars than in the first, because the larva fully developed is larger and mobile. Adults of fruit flies (eg, Ceratitis capitata and Bactrocera oleae) generally do not cause damage, but their larvae cause serious damage to many cultivated fruits.


Therefore, the identification and control of pest larvae should be carried out in the first instars, in its early stages, because less insecticide is required to kill them, to avoid further damage, and to control the population dynamics,


Therefore, a frequent monitoring of the crops is required. The problem is that the identification of the pest in immature stages is not always accurate.


Using FuturCrop, you will receive warning messages, so, when monitoring crops and detecting the pest, you already have previous information that allows you to better identify the pest and to know its state of development. In addition, the software has the ability to predict the dates of development of its future biological states, which allows you to plan treatments to make them more efficient.,


The correct time of treatments is fundamental for an adequate control of pest, because, as numerous studies show, frequent and unnecessary applications of chemical insecticides are unnecessary and even harmful.FuturCrop users are saving between 30 and 50% of their treatment costs.


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Taxonomy of pests

Taxonomy of pests

Futurcrop - 21-05-2018

The Swedish Carolus Linnaeus is considered the creator of the classification of living beings or taxonomy. In his great work Systema naturae, which, with 13 editions, represented 35 years of work, in the 18th century developed a binomial nomenclature system that is still used today, based on the use of a first term, written in capital letters, identifies the Genus, and a second term corresponding to the specific name of the Species, written in lowercase letters. From the most specific to the generic, in a nested hierarchy, grouped species into Genus, Family, Order, Class, Philum, Kingdom and Domain (Later on, the need to detail the classification forced to establish intermediate categories.


According to the taxonomic classification, insects belong to the Arthropoda Philum (such as arachnids and crustaceans), and to the Insecta Class. According to the classification of Linnaeus, the Insecta Class is divided into Orders, depending of certain morphological features: wing structure, buccal parts, metamorphosis or other characteristics, from which the given name to each order derives.


Insects comprise the most diverse group of animals on Earth with approximately one million species described. And it is estimated that there are between 6 and 10 million species not yet described or classified. For example, there are approximately 5000 species of Odonata (dragonflies, damselflies), 20,000 of Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets), 120,000 of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), 160,000 of Diptera (flies, mosquitoes), 9800 of Dictyoptera (cockroaches) , termites, mantis), 1,900 Siphonaptera (fleas), 82,000 Hemiptera (chiggers, aphids, cicadas), 350,000 Coleoptera (beetles, ladybugs), and 153,000 species of Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants) .


But not all species have an economic impact on agriculture, either positive (for being natural enemies of pests or for acting as pollinators in crops) or negative (for causing economic damage to crops). Of the 32 taxonomic Orders of Insecta, only 6 affect  to agriculture as pests. And within these, approximately 5,000 species can be classified as harmful.


Agricultural pests are Species of insects belongs to the following taxonomic orders: Diptera, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Tysanoptera and Orthoptera.


Coleoptera and Lepidoptera are the Orders that have the highest number of plague insect species.


Among the agricultural pests are also important Acari, or mites that, although they belong to the Arthropoda type, do not belong to the Insecta Class but to the Arachnida Class. For a long time they were considered an Order.





Its scientific name literally means 2 wings, because they have only two membranous wings and not four, as the vast majority of insects, and two posterior organs called halteres that are not use to fly but to maintain stability during flight. They are also characterized because the buccal apparatus (proboscis) is generally either of the sucking type or of the sting-sucking type. Some 160,000 dipteroa species have been described, classified into 150-160 families. Commonly they are called flies, mosquitoes, etc.


Some species are pests and others are predators of other pests.



Its scientific name refers to the scales of its wings, and are commonly known as moths, and butterflies. Most species are nocturnal. The mouthparts of adults, known as a siphon, are adapted to suck the nectar. For this reason, many species fulfill the role of plant pollinators, and are beneficial for crops. But its larvae, known as caterpillars, feed on flowers, fruits, stems and even roots, and are important pests for agriculture. Some species are capable of generating tunnels, mining the surfaces they feed on.

The lepidoptera are the second Order with the most species within the insecta class. More than 165,000 species, which are classified into 127 families and 46 superfamilies.





Its scientific name refers to the hardness of its front wings. They have the common name of beetles, ladybug ladybirds, etc. It is the largest order of the Insecta class, so it is normal that the different species can follow different behavior patterns. For example, some species feed on vegetation, and are pests, but others are insect predators and beneficial for agriculture.


They have 2 pairs of wings. The front ones are hard, fit in a straight line on the abdomen and that cover their other posterior and membranous wings. Their buccal apparatus is adapted for chewing.







Its scientific name means that the forewings are divided, and have a hardened half and a another membranous half. When resting, the wings fold flat on the abdomen, with the tips overlapped. During almost the entire 20th century, the hemiptera included heteroptera and homoptera. Currently some entomologists consider them different orders. The name homoptera refers to the wings of insects have a uniform texture. The Order includes insects commonly called mealybugs, whiteflies, etc.


The Hemiptera order (considering heteroptera and homoptera) comprises between 50,000 and 84,500 known species


Its mouth have a sucking structure, and they use it to suck out sap or animal fluids like blood. Among the best known hemiptera are aphids, cicadas and bed bugs.


Many species of hemiptera have agricultural importance because they are phytophagous or predator. For agriculture, within the order hemipterans, highlights the family of aphids (Aphididae). They have great economic relevance for agriculture because they feed on plants and some are vectors of viruses.




Its scientific name refers to the marginal fringe on its four wings, which increase its  flying surface when the insect is in flight. Although adults can also be winged or apterous. They are commonly called thrips. They are small insects with an elongated body, brown or black.

The buccal apparatus is a sting sucker type, with different adaptations depending on its diet, whether phytophagous, carnivorous, ectoparasite or mycoplasma. Although most species feed on the sap of plants, they can also feed on pollen or they can even be occasional predators, sucking the fluids of aphids and mites.

Some 5,600 species are known, of which about 550 are pests of cultivated plants, which fruits they discolor or produce damages that make them less tradable. They can also act as vectors for more than 20 viruses, some of them as harmful as tomato spotted wilt virus







Its scientific name refers to its straight and upright wings, and refers to insects known as grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, etc. The taxonomic order includes some 19,000 species, mostly of tropical origin, but many already distributed throughout the planet.

Morphologically they are characterized by having a chewing mouth, a third pair of legs specialized for jumping, and two pairs of wings (although they may be absent in some species). In spite of feeding mainly on plant tissues, in general they are not of great economic importance. Except for the few species, commonly called locust, that have the ability to swarm and migrate in large numbers.






Its scientific name refers to its tiny size. They are a subclass of arachnids, although for a long time they were considered an specific order. Because of the damage they cause, they are one of the species with the greatest economic impact on crops.

There are about 50,000 species, which are classified into 2 types: eriophids and tetraníquidos. The first are pests that, although they do not cause great direct damage to the plants, the saliva that they inject when feeding can carry viruses. The second ones are the most characteristic mites, and the pests of order that can cause more direct damage. They are suckers, and as a consequence of their feeding system it is usual to observe bites in the plants, in most cases of yellowish color. Of the tetraníquidos, we highlight the red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), because it attacks more than 150 agricultural species, and the citrus red mite (Panonychus ulmi), because it is one of the mites that most attacks the fruit trees.


Some species of mites can be predators or parasites of other insect pests.




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How to reduce the use of chemical insecticides in the control of pests

Futurcrop - 07-05-2018

When talking about treatments against pests and plant diseases, best practices rules  that the constant sampling of the farm, the determination of the density of the pest or the presence of the disease are fundamental procedures, and that it is the threshold of action that determines the moment of phytosanitary treatments. But reality does not always follow that procedure. See for example the March recommendations of a pest and disease surveillance station of the Spanish Public Administration. For pears and apples, they recommend a preventive application of a cupric fungicide, for stone fruit trees they recommend the application of a cupric fungicide to prevent the early appearance of diseases such as monilinia.  To prevent Phytophthora spp in citrus, they recomend to apply systemic fungicides. And the warning continues with recommendations for cupric fungicides to reduce the inoculum of diseases in other crops.


Preventive treatments, as well as repeated treatments after their inefficiency, are common in agriculture. Only 30% of chemical treatments have an effect on pests, so conventional culture requires several periodic repetitions. And this practice not only increases costs, but also causes serious environmental pollution and excessive chemical residues in food (never above the maximum residue limit for each active substance, of course). That is way agriculture needs a software application that controls pests and justifies any chemical treatment, in order to be more sustainable and reduce costs.


On average, fruits and vegetables can receive 12 treatments, or more, with phytosanitary products. the use of agrochemicals has been generalized beyond reason. The farmer assumes that with 5-10%, of the cost of his production, or even more (depending on the country) avoids a loss by pests and diseases that could become, in the worst case, 40-100%. This percentage can go from 2,500 euros / ha of cost in greenhouse tomato treatments to 523 euros / ha in irrigated tomatoes, this being the cost of agricultural input prices, without taking into account the cost of labor and machinery.


In 2014, the last year for which FAO has data on global consumption of pesticides, it exceeded 3,013'97 million kilos. And in the future it is expected that the global pesticide market will register an Annual Composite Growth Rate of 5.79%, between 2017 and 2022.


The phytosanitary product market is nourished by the farmer's attempt to minimize the risk of loss of his crop. Chemical companies know that an infestation of back cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon, can be catastrophic for a crop of corn, tomatoes or potatoes. Its larvae, during the first three stages, can consume 400 centimeters of the aerial part of the plants. Farmers try to prevent its damage. But without additional help that provides information on the pest biological development this is a difficult task. Females can lay an average of 1,800 eggs. But the eggs take to hatch from 4 to 14 days, and the 4th larvae stage lasts between 28 and 34 days, depending on the weather conditions. But as the weather conditions vary annually, it is really difficult to calculate the moment of each larval phase. Thus the treatments are repeated periodically, generation after generation, in an attempt to control the population density.


But is it necessary for the farmer to assume this level of risks and costs? The risk is not such if the monitoring is carried out constantly and automatically, checking weather conditions, and the treatments are carried out at their most efficient moment. Since the 1950s, American entomologists have emphasized the importance of pest control based on knowledge of the development of the pests. Some North American universities began to facilitate the use of phenological calculators that allow to be more efficient in monitoring and treatment, but limited to their local area and some pests. Today there is the right technology to worldwide automatically control if weather conditions increase or reduce the risk of a pest infestation. FuturCrop is a software that automatically performs this function for 179 pests: In addition, not only sends notices of the development status of the pest, but also predicts its next biological development. When you discover a pest in your crops, it may be too late to do anything other than to spray pesticides. But, often another stage in the life cycle of the pest is susceptible to carry on other preventive measures. An appropriate use of this type of tools can minimize the risk and reduce costs up to 50% in case of need to perform the treatments.


Rationalizing treatments is essential for carry on a proper control of the crop pests and diseases. FAO (Organization of the United Nations for Food and Agriculture) proposed may years ago an Integrated Pest Management strategy with the intention of reducing the use of insecticides from 50 to 70%. and the costs for pest control from 25 to 50%. Not only was it intended to reduce costs, but also to reduce environmental pollution, the development of resistances in pests to insecticides, to avoid the regrowth of other secondary pests, and to conserve the beneficial fauna.



Nowadays we are beginning to see some unpredicted effects of certain practices of conventional agriculture. damage on bees population, agricultural soil degradation, toxic concentration in waters. It is necessary to look for alternative methods that allow agriculture to be productive and sustainable in the future.


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Optimized treatment of aphids using FuturCrop

Optimized treatment of aphids using FuturCrop

Futurcrop - 04-07-2017

Aphids are one of the most common pests that afect crops, with the greatest economic impact, and which act most quickly. The 4,000 identified specied of aphids  cause direct damage to the aerial parts of the plant, but they can also be vectors of phytopathogenic viruses. They attack garden, orchard and cereals. Some 500 species of aphids are harmful to crops and gardens. And more than 200 species are capable of transmitting viruses.


FuturCrop is a software that controls the development conditions for the following species: Aphis fabae, Aphis gossypii, Myzus persicae, Macrosiphum avenae, Rhopalosiphum maidis, Diuraphis noxia.


FuturCrop is decisive for the early detection of the pest, and its effective treatment. As diagnosing the problem early can help minimize the consequences, the software automatically sends infestation risk alarms.


Aphids feed on the sap of plants, which have a lot of sugar and few proteins. Therefore, aphids must consume a lot of sap to satisfy their protein needs. The excess of sugar makes them excrete large quantities of a kind of molasses that  attracts ants, which protect, transport and care for aphids.


The survival strategies that aphids have developed make its control difficult:

  • During autumn females and winged males mate and lay eggs that hibernate until the following spring. From these eggs females are born that reproduce by parthenogenesis (basically, clones of adults). A female can carry inside its body young clones in development, and these can develop other aphids inside inside them.
  • Aphids do not require to pass mild winters as eggs. So there can be adults and nymphs throughout the year.
  • Aphids can alternate several generations of asexual reproduction. For example, if the conditions are not favorable for the colony (ie. the plant has died or the environmental conditions are no longer adequate) the new adults are winged females that can give birth by parthenogenesis. They are in fact new founder females that colonize other plants.
  • On average, a female produces between 50 and 100 eggs per cycle, and the new specimens only need about a week to mature and start its reproduction.
  • In some species, each female aphid can develop up to 40 generations during a single season.


The most frequent treatment of aphids use pesticides. The use of pesticides has increased considerably over the last 35 years, reaching growth rates of 4 to 5.4 % in some regions. In the 90´s there was a decrease in the use of insecticides. In the future it is foreseeable that their use will be gradually restricted by laws and taxes.


Generally speaking, predicting the attack of pests is the most efficient way to combat them, while reducing the use of pesticides and costs. Attention should be paid to and monitor the presence of this pest, especially in dry years with mild temperatures. The rain detach them from the plants, diminishing their damage; while temperatures above 30ºC prevent its multiplication. But climate change and the increasing of temperatures complicates what until now was its usual biological cycle. The ideal solution consists in a software of automatic control of the conditions of pests development, a system of email warnings on this information and a system predicts  its biological cycle with 10 days of advance, that allows to plan and treatt before the population reaches severe levels of infestation. Using FuturCrop it is possible to use the appropriate product for the phase in which the aphid is (eggs or adults) and easily to identify the species that affects the crops, so that it is easier to choose the active material to use (which depends on the aphid, since it has been reported different resistance to the pesticides).


In addition to pesticide treatments, there are other pest control methods. In fact, aphids have numerous natural enemies, among which we find predators, parasitoids and fungi, which put a strong pressure to keep aphids populations below damage thresholds. The coccinellids (ladybugs), lacewings and wasps are their natural enemies. But treatments by systemic pesticides eliminate the natural predators. With FuturCrop it is possible to know the exact moment of the biological development of the pest, which facilitates that the release of the organisms of biological control occurs at the moment of greater effectiveness


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