Pests are some of the most common crop problems, and they can come in several different forms. Insects are the most common and destructive, but mammals, like mice and raccoons, are also be considered crop pests in some areas. Birds are another example of a crop pest, since they can damage plants by eating seeds and fruits as well as by hunting for insects hidden in the plants.
Crop plants are those plants that are grown specifically for human consumption or other use. A crop pest is considered to be any type of creature that can damage a crop plant. Some of these pests may even destroy entire fields of crop plants in very short periods of time.
Insects can often be found on the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plants. Many insects will also eat the fruits or vegetables of crop plants, but some of these crop pests can destroy the plants before they are even able to produce any fruits or vegetables. Some insects will eat nearly any type of plant, while others will only eat certain plants; cabbage worms, for instance, are often only seen in cabbage plants and other cole crops, like broccoli and mustard plants.
To control insects on crop plants, many gardeners and farmers use chemical pesticides. Many pesticides are also toxic, however, and some studies have shown that these substances can be dangerous, even in very small quantities. Other gardeners and farmers use safer organic methods to get rid of these crop pests.
Several different animals can also be crop pests as well. Mice can often be found in corn fields, for instance, where they chew on corn stalks as well as the ears of corn. To get rid of mice, farmers can either trap them or poison them. Larger mammals, like raccoons and rabbits, might also be pests in many rural and urban vegetable gardens.
Birds can also cause an extensive amount of damage to some types of crops. Berries and seeds are generally included in the diet of many birds, including crows, and sunflower farmers are particularly plagued by seed-eating birds. Scarecrows are sometimes effective for getting rid of crop pests like crows, but many birds are not frightened away by these stationary objects. Instead, most farmers hang pie pans or CDs on strings, since shiny moving objects are generally more effective bird deterrents.