Winter moth (Operophtera brumata) development and survival on seven different host plants

Monday, November 17, 2014: 9:24 AM
F151 (Oregon Convention Center)
Kaitlyn O'Donnell , School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Eleanor Groden , Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
The winter moth is an invasive insect defoliator introduced into parts of North America in the early 1900s. More recently, this insect has spread to New England and new reports of winter moth defoliation have been reported since the spring of 2012 along the coast of Maine. The winter moth has a broad range of host plants consisting of both forest trees and important agricultural crops. Known hosts include oak, apple, cherry, birch, maple, and highbush blueberry. However, the potential risk to wild lowbush blueberry, an important crop in Maine, has not previously been explored. This study examines the development and survival of winter moth larvae on the six previously mentioned, known host plants in addition to lowbush blueberry. We also examine the phenology of this insect throughout the year in Harpswell, Maine. The Harpswell population has been closely monitored since the fall of 2012. We found that the winter moth successfully fed and survived on lowbush blueberry; however, development and survival were greater on oak and apple. The synchrony of larval hatch and host plant bud burst was also shown to be important to early survival. Studies that examine the phenology and ecology of this invasive insect and monitor its spread are very important for assessing risk and developing methods of control to protect Maine's forests and agriculture.