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Individual Highlight

Not all Asian Gypsy Moths Pose the Same Threat

Photo of Asian gypsy moth larva defoliating Douglas fir. Melody A. Keena, U.S. Department of Agriculuture Forest Service.Asian gypsy moth larva defoliating Douglas fir. Melody A. Keena, U.S. Department of Agriculuture Forest Service.Snapshot : Asian gypsy moths vary greatly in key biological and behavioral traits. Knowing the origin and traits associated with the source population of introductions will improve our ability to predict the consequences for different geographic regions and aid in developing effective management strategies.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Keena, Melody 
Research Location : Forest Service Quarantine Facility
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1171


Multiple introductions into North America of flight-capable Asian gypsy moth females via egg masses on ships or cargo have occurred, prompting major eradication programs. Asian gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar subspecies asiactica and japonica) from different geographic origins have different biological and behavioral traits affecting the risk of establishment and spread in new areas. Different proportions of females from Asian populations are capable of flight, increasing the potential rate of spread and making detection and delimitation more difficult; their propensity to initiate flight also varies. Gypsy moths from some geographic origins also possess biological traits that can affect the risk of establishment in new areas: ability of these larvae to utilize hosts that are only marginally acceptable to gypsy moths from other areas, faster larval developmental rates, and different egg hatch requirements. There is also geographic variation in susceptibility to some available biopesticides that could influence their effectiveness in eradication or control programs. Documenting the geographic variation and inheritance of these traits has improved scientists’ ability to predict the potential consequences of introductions into different areas and will aid in the development of effective management strategies, if molecular techniques can identify the geographic origin of intercepted gypsy moths.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Beijing Key Laboratory for Forest Pest Control, Forestry College, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China
  • Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center

Program Areas