Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UMass Amherst Entomologists Begin to Control Winter Moth Infestation in Eastern Massachusetts

A six-year campaign to control invasive winter moths with a natural parasite led by entomologist Joe Elkinton of the University of Massachusetts Amherst now has concrete evidence that a parasitic fly, Cyzenis albicans, has been established and is attacking the pest at four sites in Seekonk, Hingham, Falmouth and Wellesley. It’s the beginning of the end for the decade-long defoliation of eastern Massachusetts trees by the invasive species, Elkinton says.

The researchers marked an important milestone during field work this summer and last, when they recovered winter moth larvae recently parasitized by C. albicans, the parasitic fly, at sites in the four towns. The evidence indicates that the flies had successfully overwintered and are now actively preying on the moth’s young.

The winter moth, Operophtera brumata, invaded the state from Europe more than a decade ago and has caused widespread, damaging defoliation of many deciduous tree species. The moths have moved westward and recently spread to Rhode Island. In many of these areas defoliation has occurred almost every year since the infestation began. As a result, many trees have started to die. Similar winter moth invasions occurred in Nova Scotia in the 1950s and in the Pacific northwest in the 1970s. In each case, outbreaks were permanently controlled by introducing C. albicans, Elkinton adds.

"Because C. albicans was so successful in controlling winter moth in Nova Scotia and the Pacific northwest, it was natural for us to introduce it here in New England using flies my colleagues and I collected in British Columbia," he notes.

A great advantage of C. albicans is that it is highly specialized to prey on winter moths, so it does not spread to other species. Further, its numbers decline once it gains control, the entomologist points out. It is not attracted to humans or our homes and buildings, so the only impact people will notice is the decline in tree damage.

The researchers have conducted DNA tests that prove the flies recovered in 2010 and 2011 are identical to those they released. "Our experience now matches closely the Nova Scotia project wherein the yearly releases began in 1954, but no recoveries at all were made until 1959. Previous experience in Nova Scotia or British Columbia suggests that the levels of parasitism should now build rapidly in eastern Massachusetts over the next few years," Elkinton says.

"Now that we know that single releases with a few hundred flies can result in establishment here in New England, we can spread the flies we have to more new sites." He and his team have now released about 700 flies at each of nine new sites in 2011, including one in Rhode Island.

They also collected 61,000 winter moth pupae that contain C. albicans larva in British Columbia and have sequestered them in the USDA quarantine lab at Otis Air Force Base for release next year in Massachusetts. "Previous experience tells us that about 50 percent of these pupae will contain immature C. albicans. Assuming that we can successfully rear most of these to the adult stage next spring, by May 2012 we should have more flies to release than ever before," says Elkinton.

The UMass Amherst winter moth control project was begun in 2005 with support from the Massachusetts Legislature, and later the USDA and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Though budget cutbacks threaten to slow progress, Elkinton is hopeful that efforts will continue to release flies at new locations, because it takes time for only a few thousand flies to catch up with the estimated trillions of winter moths now munching their way across eastern and central Massachusetts.

Joe Elkinton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth
23.03.2018 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht “How trees coexist” – new findings from biodiversity research published in Nature Communications
22.03.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>