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Shifting geographical ranges of crop pests and pathogens in response to climate change pose a threat to food security. The orange wheat blossom midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana) is responsible for significant yield losses in China, the world's largest wheat producer. Here we report that rising temperatures in the North China Plain have resulted in a mean northward range shift of 3.3 deg (58.8 km per decade) from the 1950s to 2010s, which accelerated to 91.3 km per decade after 1985 when the highly toxic pesticide hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) was banned. Phenological matching between wheat midge adult emergence and wheat heading in this new expanded range has resulted in greater damage to wheat production. Around $286.5 million worth of insecticides were applied to around 19 million hectares in an attempt to minimize wheat midge damage to crops between 1985 and 2016. Despite use of these pesticides, wheat midge caused losses of greater than 0.95 million metric tons of grain during this period. Our results demonstrate the potential for indirect negative impacts of climate change on crop production and food security, and constitute the first large scale example of plant pest range shift due to global warming.

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