UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Potential Differences and Methods of Determining Gypsy Moth Female Flight Capabilities: Implications for the Establishment and Spread in Novel Habitats Srivastava, Vivek; Keena, Melody A.; Hamelin, Richard C.; Maennicke, Galen; Griess, Verena


The introduction of the Asian gypsy moth into novel environments continues with frequent interceptions in North America. There is a concern that these subspecies will pose a greater threat to the forests and urban environments of North America than the established gypsy moths (Lymantria dispardispar L.), due to their greater capacity for female flight. Asian gypsy moth populations vary in many key traits, including female flight capabilities. The potential impacts of female flight, in combination with the other key traits, on the ecology and spread of this insect are first discussed in this communication. This also provides the first review of most of the current literature on the variations in flight capability and flight distance of gypsy moth populations, as well as variation in other traits of concern and the potential methods of identification, with special attention paid to the Asian subspecies Lymantria dispar japonica Motschulsky and Lymantria dispar asiatica Vinkovskij. There are currently good tools for identifying the general origin of introduced gypsy moth populations, but these do not provide enough information to effectively manage introductions. Gypsy moth key traits differ among populations, even within each subspecies of the gypsy moth, so introduction of gypsy moths from other world areas into locations where the gypsy moth is already present could result in unwanted changes in gypsy moth biology. It also appears that the introduction of flight-capable females could enhance a population’s dispersal capability and require modifications to management protocols used for flightless females. Therefore, rapid tools to assess key traits in introduced populations are needed to adequately plan for, or deal with, new introductions into novel habitats.

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