Characterizing and simulating the movement of late-instar gypsy moth (Lepidoptera: Erebidae) to evaluate the effectiveness of regulatory practices

Jacob T. Wittman, Rachael A. Nicoll, Scott W. Myers, Paul H. Chaloux, Brian H. Aukema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The European gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar L., is an invasive insect in North America that feeds on over 300 species of trees and shrubs and occasionally causes extensive defoliation. One regulatory practice within quarantine zones to slow the spread of this insect recommends that wood products (e.g., logs, pulpwood) originating from quarantine areas are staged within 100 foot-radius buffer zones devoid of host vegetation before transport outside the quarantine boundary. Currently, there are little data underpinning the distance used. We conducted field experiments in Wisconsin to assess buffer zone efficacy in reducing risk of larval gypsy moth encroachment on wood staging areas. We released late-instar gypsy moth larvae in groups around the perimeter of a 100-ft radius zone and tracked their movements for 10-h periods using harmonic radar and tested whether host vegetation staged around the perimeter or food availability before release altered movement patterns. Three larvae moved over 300 ft in 10 h, but 93% of larvae moved <100 ft total. The presence of host vegetation reduced the likelihood of larvae entering the buffer zone by 70%. Food availability before release did not affect movement. Using these field data, we parameterized a Monte Carlo simulation model to evaluate risk of larvae crossing zones of different sizes. For zones >100 ft in radius, <4% of larvae reached the center. This percentage decreased as zone size increased. Implications of these results for the regulatory practices of the gypsy moth quarantine are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernvz025
Pages (from-to)496-505
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 7 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
was provided by USDA APHIS Gypsy Moth Program, Farm Bill agreement 17-8130-0519, and an MGK Fellowship to J. T. W. Two anonymous reviewers provided valuable feedback that improved an earlier version of this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • forest pest
  • harmonic radar
  • management
  • movement behavior


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