Rice planthoppers are common insect pests in Taiwan, and they have caused significant damage in the past. The majority of rice planthoppers have seen a drastic decline in their population since the mid-2000s, a trend that has anecdotally attributed to widespread and better pest control, as well as improved rice cultivation management. By analyzing 40 years of the airborne net trap data of rice planthoppers collected in Southwest Taiwan, it was found that the pests’ yearly population, computed with a logarithmic transformation, resembles a signature climate pattern in the global oceans with a robust multi-decadal variability. An ocean temperature-based index derived from the patterns of multi-decadal variability shows a marked resemblance with the population change of common rice planthoppers, with overlapping peaks during the 1990–2010 period. The climate dynamics associated with the regional weather pattern in the vicinity of Taiwan are discussed. Phase reversal of this multi-decadal climate variability in the future may produce favorable climatic conditions for the rice planthopper population to increase back to its historical levels.
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