Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 1191–1198 | Cite as

Climate change favours a destructive agricultural pest in temperate regions: late spring cold matters

  • Shimin Gu
  • Peng Han
  • Zhengpei Ye
  • Lynda E. Perkins
  • Jing Li
  • Huiqing Wang
  • Myron P. Zalucki
  • Zhaozhi Lu
Original Paper


Global climate change has profound consequences on survival and reproduction of arthropods. In particular, in temperate regions changes in spring temperatures have a major impact on crop pest population dynamics, but the mechanisms remain elusive. By analysing empirical data of Helicoverpa armigera moth populations from three sites over 12–13 years in northwestern China, and running modelling (DYMEX software), we intended to clarify how the late spring cold (LSC) events affect the populations of this destructive pest species. We then explored the relationships between LSC parameters and moth population dynamics using model simulations. Our results highlight the importance of LSC in driving H. armigera population dynamics. Of the LSC parameters tested, the duration of LSC measured as the maximum continuous days with a minimum temperature lower than 10 °C (MCDL) was a key factor influencing the population abundance of the spring and summer generations. Furthermore, the model showed that the timing of the LSC event had a major effect on how the MCDL influenced each generation. The timing with respect to the eclosion of the overwintering generation was critical, and it determined the variation in the abundance of the first and subsequent generations. Our findings imply that the abundance of H. armigera will increase as the frequency and duration of LSC events decrease under global spring warming. Incorporating the duration and timing of LSC events into decision-making should improve forecasting H. armigera abundance and other insect species under global climate change and better inform pest management.


DYMEX Helicoverpa armigera Population dynamics Spring warming 



We thank local plant protection stations of agricultural department for their valuable fieldwork and collection of monitoring data. We thank anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This study was supported by the “International collaborative program of the Ministry of Scientific and Technology of the People’s Republic of China” (No. 2011DFA33170), the Thousand Youth Talents plan of China (Y772101001) and Main Service Project of Characteristic Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences (TSS-2015-014-FW-1-4).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were considered in the present investigation.

Informed consent

The eight authors of this manuscript accepted that the paper is submitted for publication in the Journal of Pest Science, and reported that this paper has not been published or accepted for publication in another journal, and it is not under consideration at another journal.

Supplementary material

10340_2018_1011_MOESM1_ESM.docx (240 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 239 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shimin Gu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Peng Han
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhengpei Ye
    • 5
  • Lynda E. Perkins
    • 6
  • Jing Li
    • 7
  • Huiqing Wang
    • 7
  • Myron P. Zalucki
    • 6
  • Zhaozhi Lu
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesÜrümqiChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesÜrümqiChina
  4. 4.CAS Research Center for Ecology and Environment of Central AsiaChinese Academy of SciencesÜrümqiChina
  5. 5.Institute of EcologyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  6. 6.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  7. 7.Plant Protection Station of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous RegionÜrümqiChina

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