Role of Drought in Outbreaks of Plant-Eating Insects
Substantial evidence indicates that drought stress promotes outbreaks of plant-eating (phytophagous) fungi and insects. Observations and experiments show that colonization success and prevalence of such fungi as root and stalk rots, stem cankers, and sometimes wilts and foliar diseases are much higher on water-stressed plants than on normal plants (Schoeneweiss 1986). The evidence associating insects and drought is more circumstantial, consisting largely of observations that outbreaks around the world of such insects as bark beetles and leaf feeders (see Table 1) are typically preceded by unusually warm, dry weather. There is also a consistent, positive correlation between insect outbreaks and dry, nutrient-poor sites (Mattson and Haack 1987).
Mattson, W. and Haack, R. (1987). Role of drought in outbreaks of plant-eating insects. Bioscience, 37(2): 110-118.