A rare insect infestation in Ontario is causing farmers to implement pest control.
Potato leafhoppers are not typically found in the Ontario area, the Ottawa Sun reports. This year, a massive amount of the bugs is destroying alfalfa crops.
The pests eat alfalfa juice, but also inject their poisonous saliva into the crop, which prevents the plant’s sap from flowing.
The source reports that alfalfa is typically a fairly drought-resistant crop, making it a good crop to be growing this year until the potato leafhoppers showed up.
The damage to the plants is initially difficult to detect, farmers do not often realize there is a problem. This allows the pest population to grow, because farmers are not taking pest control measures against them.
A local crop specialist told the Ottawa Sun that he estimates up to 30 percent of the area’s alfalfa crop may be destroyed by the pests this year.
Because farmers tend to harvest alfalfa crops several times in a season, they have been advised to cut their alfalfa down to get rid of damaged plants and prevent the leafhoppers from hiding anywhere in the field. Pesticide is also required to completely rid a field of an infestation, the source reports.