Scientists work to defeat gypsy moths

November 16, 2006

Ecologists have found a new pattern in the gypsy moth invasion across the Northeastern United States that might be useful in battling the moths.

The gypsy moth invasion is arguably the most intensively studied species invasion in history. Since the moths' accidental release near Boston in 1869, the species has swarmed across more than 1 million square miles of the United States, defoliating up to 12 million acres of forest each year.

By analyzing more than four decades' worth of data, Derek Johnson and colleagues at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette discovered the moths' spread occurs in pulses roughly four years apart.

That, say the scientists, is probably because moths that spread far beyond the current frontier cannot establish breeding populations unless they colonize in sufficient numbers.

Thus, says Johnson, moths can spread only at times when their populations are high and so targeting large groups of moths near the edges of the current distribution could help to slow their advance.

The study appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Old World bollworm could pose serious threat to more than cotton and corn

Related Stories

Why we still collect butterflies

June 11, 2015

Who doesn't love butterflies? While most people won't think twice about destroying a wasp nest on the side of the house, spraying a swarm of ants in the driveway, or zapping pesky flies at an outdoor barbecue, few would intentionally ...

Getting to the bottom of the zombie ant phenomenon

May 22, 2013

( —While unraveling a dramatic case of mind control, biologist David Hughes is taking calls from Hollywood—and gaining new insights into the role behavior plays in spreading disease.

Recommended for you

The hand and foot of Homo naledi

October 6, 2015

The second set of papers related to the remarkable discovery of Homo naledi, a new species of human relative, have been published in scientific journal, Nature Communications, on Tuesday, 6 October 2015.

New surfaces delay ice formation

October 6, 2015

If you've ever waited on an airport runway for your plane to be de-iced, had to remove all your food so the freezer could defrost, or arrived late to work because you had to scrape the sheet of ice off your car windshield, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.