Canadian Forest Service Publications

Incidence and impact of Entomophaga aulicae (Zygomycetes: Entomophthorales) and a nucleopolyhedrovirus in an outbreak of the whitemarked tussock moth (Lepidoptera: Lymatriidae) 2002. van Frankenhuyzen, K.; Ebling, P.M.; Thurston, G.S.; Lucarotti, C.J.; Royama, T.; Guscott, R.; Georgeson, E.; Silver, J. The Canadian Entomologist 134: 825-845.

Year: 2002

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 21059

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Mark record


In Nova Scotia, the whitemarked tussock moth, Orgyia leucostigma Fitch, periodically erupts in outbreaks that typically last 3-5 years. Population changes during a recent outbreak were monitored by means of aerial defoliation surveys and fall egg-mass surveys that were conducted between 1997 and 2001. Severe defoliation was first recorded on approximately 250 ha in 1996. The defoliated area increased rapidly to hundreds of thousands hectares in 1998, after which it sharply declined to about 4700 ha in 2000 and 0 ha in 2001. The total infested area (>0.01 egg masses per three branches of Abies balsamea L. (Pinaceae)) decreased from about 1.4 million ha in 1997 to about 13500 ha in 2001. Between 1996 and 2001, the infestation involved a cumulative total of 2.4 million ha, covering most of the province. The collapse of larval populations during 1998 was associated with widespread prevalence of a singly embedded nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV) and Entomophaga aulicae (Reichardt in Bail) Humber (Zygomycetes: Entomophthorales). Sampling of larval populations in late July and August 1998 revealed a widespread and virtually sympatric occurrence of those pathogens in areas that were under defoliation pressure, with infection levels by each pathogen exceeding 75% in many sample sites. Pathogen impacts on larval survival were studied in 1999 in a persisting pocket of severe infestation in Hants County. Larvae were collected every 3 d from balsam fir branch samples between 17 June and 21 July and reared to determine cause of death. The two pathogens together accounted for at least 50% of cohort mortality, calculated as marginal mortality rates according to Royama (2001). Although cohort mortality due to disease on balsam fir was significantly correlated with between-generation reduction in mean egg-mass density, overall pathogen-induced mortality was not high enough to drive the populations into an endemic state, and a moderate infestation persisted into 2000.