Insect Infestation

Relying on a variety of data sources, including observations by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Jon Ranson and Paul Montesano of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center conducted a survey of insect-damaged forests in British Columbia. This image shows their assessment of insect damage overlain on a topography map. In this image, red indicates the most severe damage, and green indicates no damage. Gray indicates non-forested areas. Image: NASA.


Accordingly to the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme, insect infestation is classified as biological hazard and described as the pervasive influx, swarming and/or hatching of insects affecting humans, animals, crops, and perishable goods. Examples are locusts, plague and African Bees (IRDR).

Facts and figures

Insects are responsible for significant losses to the world's total crop production annually. Not all insects are pests but a small number are harmful to crops, livestock and humans. One major reason for the occurrence of these pests is the creation of man-manipulated habitats, with crops selected for their large size, high yield, nutritious value, and clustered in a confined area. This provides a highly conducive environment for herbivorous insects (FAO).

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Desert locust suitable habitat survey map. Image: SUPARCO.

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Regional Support Offices mentioned:
NDVI Anomaly. Image: NASA

SERVIR, a joint program between NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has partnered with relief organizations and the United Nations, including the Desert Locust Information System of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to produce maps that could explain locust behavior. The maps provide useful information on environmental conditions, such as soil moisture and vegetation, that can influence locust life cycles. By identifying the potential conditions under which the locusts hatch and grow, these maps can help governments keep track of the locust swarms, create forecasts of where and how much longer locust outbreaks might occur, as well as prevent other locust infestations from happening.

SERVIR, whose aim is to use satellite images to improve environmental policies in developing nations, has developed a map that shows the average soil moisture over eastern Africa from 14 to 20 January 2020, when the locust invasion... read more

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African farmers harvesting the crop in South Sudan. Image: FAO/South Sudan.

The Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE), developed by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International development charity (CABI), combines temperature and weather data provided by satellites with computer models to predict when pest outbreaks are most likely to occur, giving farmers time to prepare.

Farmers are currently notified of pest forecasts through an existing network of so-called "Plant Doctors" and receive WhatsApp messages with weekly warnings at county level during the growing season.

How does it work?

Satellites scanning the Earth can provide accurate land temperature information, which is one of the... read more

Publishing date: 23/01/2019

Data Source

Publishing institution: Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) of Pakistan
The Space Application Centre for Response in Emergency and Disasters (SACRED) of the Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission of Pakistan (SUPARCO), a UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office, is using space-based information to analyze areas as to their suitability as desert locust habitats. The maps resulting form this analysis indicate the suitability of habitat on a scale consisting of five values: least, less, normal, moderate and most. The maps are published online for download, and a related layer is produced and made available through the DisasterWatch Desert Locust Situation Alert geoviewer.
Publishing institution: European Space Agency (ESA)
ESA's Earth Observation Thematic Exploitation Platform (TEP) is a browser for satellite imagery and specific products on an environmental topic. The TEP platforms are divided into 7 categories: Coastal; Forstry; Geohazards; Hydrology; Polar; Urban; and Food Security. Each platform is a collaborative, virtual work environment providing access to EO data and the tools, processors and Information and Communication Technology resources required to work with them. TEP aims to bridge the gap between the users and the data and tools.
Publishing institution: Airbus Defence & Space
Pleidas, TerraSar-X, SPOT and Elevation data available commercially from airbus, certain sample data sets at various locations available for free.
Publishing institution: Radiant Earth Foundation
The website: Help and Tutorials: Demos & Use Cases:
Publishing institution: NASA Earth Science Disasters Program
NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) is a program for archiving and distributing Earth science data from multiple missions to users.
Publishing institution: European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
Map Viewer that allows downloading and time series creation of Meteosat and Sentinel-3 products.


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