A pest is any animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns, including crops, livestock and forestry, among others. The term is also used of organisms that cause a nuisance, such as in the home. An older usage is of a deadly epidemic disease, specifically plague. In its broadest sense, a pest is a competitor of humanity.
A pest is any living organism, whether animal, plant or fungus, which is invasive or troublesome to plants or animals, human or human concerns, livestock, or human structures. It is a loose concept, as an organism can be a pest in one setting but beneficial, domesticated or acceptable in another.
Animals are called pests when they cause damage to agriculture by feeding on crops or parasitising livestock, such as codling moth on apples, or boll weevil on cotton. An animal could also be a pest when it causes damage to a wild ecosystem or carries germs within human habitats. Examples of these include those organisms which vector human disease, such as rats and fleas which carry the plague disease, mosquitoes which vector malaria, and ticks which carry Lyme disease.
A species can be a pest in one setting but beneficial or domesticated in another (for example, European rabbits introduced to Australia caused ecological damage beyond the scale they inflicted in their natural habitat). Many weeds are also seen as useful under certain conditions, for instance Patterson's curse is often valued as food for honeybees and as a wildflower, even though it can poison livestock.
The term "plant pest" has a specific definition in terms of the International Plant Protection Convention and phytosanitary measures worldwide. A pest is any species, strain or biotype of plant, animal, or pathogenic agent injurious to plants or plant products. Plants may be considered pests themselves if an invasive species.
The animal groups of greatest importance as pests (in order of economic importance) are insects, mites, nematodes and gastropods. Plant pests can be classed as monophagous, oligophagous, and polyphagous according to how many hosts they have. Alternatively, they can be divided by feeding type, whether biting and chewing; piercing and sucking; or Lapping and chewing. Another approach is to class them by population presence as * key pests, occasional pests, and potential pests. In terms of population biology, there are population growth rate (r) pests; carrying capacity (k) pests; and r-k pests.
- Pigeons and seagulls eat human food and carry disease
- Many birds, such as crows, eat crops
- Canada goose; widely regarded as pests in the United States (see Canada goose#Relationship with humans), and in New Zealand (see Canada geese in New Zealand).
- Woodpeckers peck at rooftops and also nest in them. They cause structural damage to houses.
- The common myna was declared by IUCN Species Survival Commission as one of the world's most invasive species and one of only three birds in the top 100 species that pose an impact to biodiversity, agriculture and human interests. In particular, the species poses a serious threat to the ecosystems of Australia where it was named "The Most Important Pest/Problem".
- Mice, rats, and other small rodents damage crops and stored produce.
- Rabbits as an introduced species in Australia decimate native plant populations there.
- Foxes, opossums, raccoons, and bears eat waste.
- Red foxes, also introduced to Australia, have been implicated in the extinction of several of the country's native mammals.
- Beavers destroy trees.
- Gophers, groundhogs, and moles destroy lawns.
- Feral cats and feral dogs eat human food and carry disease. Feral cats, which did not exist in Australia prior to European settlement, have also been implicated in the decline and extinction of many native species.
- White-tailed deer are now seen as pests in many suburban and exurban areas of the US, though not in more rural areas.
- Coyotes, wolves, hyenas, cougars and lions prey upon livestock.
- Vampire bats drink the blood of livestock.
- Eastern grey squirrels cause damage to homes, particularly to rooflines and attic spaces. They can even inhabit spaces between walls. They are seen as pests in Britain and Ireland because of the decline of red squirrel populations.
- Tigers and leopards prey on farming communities in (for example) parts of India.
- Wild boars damage crops, spread disease, and prey upon livestock.
Insects and arachnids
Agricultural and domestic arthropods
- Examples of agricultural and horticultural insect pests include:
- Ants, cockroaches, flies and wasps
- Termites, woodworm and wood ants cause structural damage
- Bookworms, silverfish, carpet beetles and clothes moths cause non-structural damage
Some slugs are pests in agriculture and gardens. Deroceras reticulatum is a worldwide slug pest. Local importance slug pests include: Deroceras spp., Milax spp., Tandonia sp., Limax spp., Arion spp. and some species of Veronicellidae: Veronicella sloanei.
- Helix aspersa damages citrus fruits in California,
- Cernuella virgata, Theba pisana and Cochlicella spp. decrease quality of grains when harvested with the product in South Australia.
- Achatina fulica damages vegetables and ornamental plants in the Pacific region.
- Succinea costaricana damages ornamental plants in Costa Rica.
- Ovachlamys fulgens damages ornamental plants and orchids in Costa Rica.
- Other pest species include Amphibulima patula dominicensis, Zachrysia provisoria and Bradybaena similaris.
Plants and plant diseases
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[...] systematic wildlife observation in India began largely after the British had been there for some years, intensively hunting tigers for sport, pest control, and [...] social status.
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