Canadian Forest Service Publications

Why western spruce budworms travel so far for the winter. 2016. Nealis, V.G.; Régnière, J. Ecological Entomology (2016), 41, 633–641

Year: 2016

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 37086

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1111/een.12336

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  1. Conifer-feeding budworms (Choristoneura) hibernate in sheltered locations on their host trees from late summer of 1 year to spring of the next. During this period, they do not feed but rely on sustenance provided in the egg. Overwinter survival is dependent on the rate of consumption of these limited reserves.
  2. A process model was developed that quantifies the relationship between the rate of consumption and survival at variable temperatures and exposure times for western spruce budworm. The model supported physiological evidence that warm weather conditions early in the diapause period have a dominant influence on overwinter survival. Output compared favourably with field observations of poorer budworm survival at lower elevations where late-summer and autumn temperatures were warmer compared to those overwintering at cooler, higher elevations.
  3. Field experiments demonstrated these weather-dependent rates of survival were modulated significantly by the degree of shelter experienced by hibernating budworms. 4. Dissection of whole trees harbouring overwintering western spruce budworms showed a significant portion of the population had travelled a considerable distance from the periphery of the tree canopy where eggs were laid to overwinter successfully on the tree bole where sheltered niches are common.
  4. Thus, budworms will travel relatively long distances and risk increased mortality during this dispersal to find adequate shelter to overwinter.