The term pestilence has some application of use to generally describe

2: something that is destructive or pernicious

I have seen it used in reference to destruction of plants and crops by insects (or other vermin). But besides being a more generic term of something destructive, pestilence appears to be more focused on disease, as it's first definition is:

1: a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating

What I'm trying to find out is if there is a single word that refers to crop devastation by bugs (locusts, caterpillars, etc.) specifically; or optionally by a larger subset of vermin (including [small] mammals, birds, etc.).

To clarify, I'm not seeking a term for the actual vermin themselves, but the effects they have left behind upon the crops. So instead of saying "the crop was devastated by bugs" or "the crop was devastated by pestilence," I'm seeking a word that encapsulates in a single word the devastation idea along with the agents of the devastation being bugs (or vermin). "The crop was [single word]."

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    'plague' also works. It is more commonly associated with human diseases but also works for general devastating things – Mitch Nov 24 '14 at 17:18
  • In lots of reports, swarms of locusts are said to decimate crops. – JLG Nov 24 '14 at 20:19
  • @JLG: I'm sure there are a number of words for the destruction itself (decimate, obliterate, consume, etc.), but I'm trying to find out if there is a word that includes the idea of the means (swarm of insects/vermin) within it. – ScottS Nov 24 '14 at 20:42
  • Devoured? – JLG Nov 24 '14 at 20:55
  • @JLG: Unfortunately, devoured could include by means of a bunch of people (who, in this case, I am not considering vermin [hehehe]), or cattle, etc.--things one might expect/desire the crop to be eaten by. It may be that if a term exists for what I want, that it only exists in the technical realm of farming, pest control, or some such. But I don't know that for sure; maybe there is a less technical term that is just obscure (or maybe there is no such term). – ScottS Nov 24 '14 at 21:24

I think there isn't a single word that exactly covers this meaning but blight comes close.

It is actually a plant disease or the symptoms of that disease caused by pathogenic organisms (insects and fungus usually). But if you say blighted, you imply that crop is destroyed by blight.

Blighted crops are crops blighted by pests, that is, crops damaged by pests.


Though, in agriculture and pestology, pest damage is used for describing the destruction of crops by any kind of pest.

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    Is the term blight ever used for insect damage? I couldn't find anything that states that it is. I saw definitions where blight is caused by fungus, bacteria, and viruses. Can you cite a reference that refers to "bugs" (as the OP calls them)? – JLG Nov 25 '14 at 3:39
  • MW definition: an organism (as an insect or a fungus) that causes blight – 0.. Nov 25 '14 at 3:55
  • Beech blight aphid – 0.. Nov 25 '14 at 3:56
  • Actually, a fungus under the aphids' exudation results in the beech blight (per the article you link to). I guess I think of blight as being a slow, withering process, which I don't think is what the OP was after. But I guess he'll decide. – JLG Nov 25 '14 at 5:43
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    This answer is "useful" for two reasons: (1) it moves toward a single word, though the idea of blight itself (even with the MW definition) is more focused on damage by disease (which may have been carried to the plant by insects) rather than consumption. The mention of "insect" in the MW definition is in reference to the organism of the insect being such a carrier. The 1 and 4 definitions refer more to the plants, but without necessary association of insects. (2) the pest damage notation begins to reveal there may be no single word (as one would expect such sources to use it then). +1. – ScottS Nov 25 '14 at 13:31

Consider infestation. Oxford Online defines infest as

(Of insects or animals) be present (in a place or site) in large numbers, typically so as to cause damage or disease: the house is infested with cockroaches

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    I personally don't necessarily associate infestation with causing of damage (and specifically eating of crops), but simply large, unwanted numbers (more like the Webster definition) of critters. However, the word does carry the idea of vermin well. To clarify, my question is more trying to find a word describing crops that have specifically been damaged by what might have been infestation of critters, not a word for the critters themselves. – ScottS Nov 24 '14 at 20:01

You could use plague in this instance.

Either way it may be most clear if you add of [bug type] to whichever word you choose.

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    Exodus 10:13. Nothing wrong with plague. – Andrew Leach Nov 25 '14 at 0:03
  • @AndrewLeach: I down voted this answer as not useful because (1) Mitch had posted a comment already, (2) in which he noted the use of "general devastating," which is not what I was seeking; (3) the word does not inherently contain the meaning of "crop devastation by bugs" in a single word (Exodus 10:13 has locusts mentioned in context, so it is adding the notion); (4) my desire is to not add "of [bug type]" (the whole point of my question). – ScottS Nov 25 '14 at 13:22
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  • @AndrewLeach: Certainly. But the word should match in the other specifications (I assume Mitch posted as a comment because he realized it did not match, but was similar to my original pestilence). – ScottS Nov 25 '14 at 14:04

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