Insect pests are those insect species that are injurious or a nuisance. They cause injury or damage to crops in the field and grains in storage. Man and his domesticated animals are also attacked by insect pests. Arthropod predators belong to the phylum Arthropoda and are most times beneficial in the control of insect pests. Arthropod predators are members of the phylum Arthropoda which capture and feed on the prey. They are generally larger than their prey and kill or consume many prey during their life time. Examples of arthropod predators include the lady beetles, spiders, praying mantids, damsel bugs, lace wings, syrphid flies etc. They can feed on insect pests like aphids, moths, mites, butterflies, brown plant hoppers etc. These arthropod predators have been very effective in some cases of biological control programes of insect pests. Examples include the use of the cocinellid beetle, Radolia cardinalis (a lady bird beetle) to control the cottony-cushion scale, Icerya purchasi (a scale insect) which was a citrus pest in carlifornia, U.S.A. also wolf spiders have been effectively used to control the rice pest (the brown plant hoppers) in Indonesia.
1.1 Background of the study
Arthropod species occur from below the soil surface to the tree canopy. However, only a small fraction are observed on a frequent basis because many are microscopic or hidden below ground or plant tissue. Very few species are classified as pest. Whether they feed on plants or plant produce invade our homes, inflict painful bites or stings. Infect most insects and other arthropods are beneficial and serve a variety of important functions in the garden. The abundance of beneficial insects especially predators is often limited in urban landscapes because these environments typically are characterized by disturbance. Disturbance factors include use of pesticides and other chemicals, air pollution and wind-borne dust, all of which may increase mortality of beneficial arthropods. Residential landscapes often lack adequate amounts of essential resources such as food, nesting sites and shelter than enhance reproduction and survival of natural enemies. Some common strategies are employed to conserve them in residential landscapes and these strategies may help reduce insecticide use and improve plant health by enhancing natural control of arthropod pests.
Because many arthropod pests are exotic the aim of classical biological control is to reduce pest numbers by reuniting old enemies through importation of predators from the area of insect pest origin. Lady beetles, green lace wings and spiders are familiar examples of predator arthropods inhibiting residential landscapes and gardens. In general, predators are larger than their prey, consume many prey items during their life time and feed on a broad range of species immature and/or adults may be predatory and often do not leave behind any evidence of attack. However, these arthropod predators often help to keep aphids, spider mites, caterpillars and other insect pests under control.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Insects came on this earth about 250 million years ago, whereas human beings appear only one million years back, so in the real sense, human beings are competitors of insects and not the reverse (Parabhoi, Sahu, & Kumari, 2017). But as the human being sits at the top of the evolutionary ladder, his life is effectively superior to that of any other organism, and in that sense, the insects become competitors. A pest is an organism whose activity causes it to be inimical to the welfare of humans. Of the approximate total of 8 million insects, roughly 2% constitute the pests, is the remainder being either useful or harmless (Parabhoi, Sahu, & Kumari, 2017). But these 2% insects are responsible for a crop loss of 10-15%. World food and fiber losses caused by pests (principally insect pathogens and weeds) are estimated to be about 40% of which 15% are attributable to insects and mites.(Parabhoi, Sahu, & Kumari, 2017).
One of the many challenges farmers confront is the effect of insect pest. The presence of insect pest can be inimical to the outcome of farm produce. One of the numerous effect of insect pest on crops is the growth limitation it places on the crops. This situation defeats the farmers organic and inorganic crop growth methods. Other effects of insects pest include reduction of in output of farm produce and spoilages experience by farmers. Arthropods prey on insect pest and act as a control mechanism for insect pest. However, in Makurdi Benue state, the rate of arthropods predators are yet to be determined, this study seeks to fill this gap. More so, this study will determine the advantage of arthropods and the relationship between arthropods predators and the control of insect pests.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The primary goal of this study is to examine the influence of arthropod predators in the control of insect pest. Specifically, the study sought to
- Examine the rate of Arthropods predators in farmlands.
- Investigate the advantage of arthropod predators to farmers.
- Examine the relationship between the existence of arthropod predators and control of insect pests.
1.4 Research questions
- What is the rate of arthropod predators in farmlands in Makurdi?
- What is the advantage of arthropod predators incidence to crop farmers?
- Is there a relationship between the incidence of arthropods predators and insect pest control?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
There is no significant relationship between the incidence of arthropod predators and insect pest control.
1.6 Significance of the study
This study is carried out to explore the phenomenon of arthropod predators and insect pest control. It is advantageous to the farmer as it educates the farmers on the positives associated with arthropods predators. Economically, the study is helpful as it allows scientists to leverage on the positives of arthropods predators to invent or develop insect pest control methods. Also, this study is a contribution to the numerous studies on insect pest control in Zoology and it is an academic source for further researches.
1.7 Scope of the study
This study is focused on insect pest control and the target audience is the farmers. This is because farmers encounter insect pest often and are the most affected by insect pest. Also, the study will focus on farmers in Makurdi,Benue state. Further studies can expand the study to accommodate farmers from Makurdi.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The focus on farmers only is a limitation for this study. This is because beyond farmers, other categories of people in the society are affected by the activities of insect pest. More so, this study is limited by time. This is as the researcher had hard time collecting information from farmers in which some respondents were not willing to divulge.
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