Navigation Links
UMass Amherst entomologists begin to control winter moth infestation in eastern Massachusetts

AMHERST, Mass. A six-year campaign to control invasive winter moths with a natural parasite led by entomologist Joe Elkinton of the University of Massachusetts Amherst now has concrete evidence that a parasitic fly, Cyzenis albicans, has been established and is attacking the pest at four sites in Seekonk, Hingham, Falmouth and Wellesley. It's the beginning of the end for the decade-long defoliation of eastern Massachusetts trees by the invasive species, Elkinton says.

The researchers marked an important milestone during field work this summer and last, when they recovered winter moth larvae recently parasitized by C. albicans, the parasitic fly, at sites in the four towns. The evidence indicates that the flies had successfully overwintered and are now actively preying on the moth's young.

The winter moth, Operophtera brumata, invaded the state from Europe more than a decade ago and has caused widespread, damaging defoliation of many deciduous tree species. The moths have moved westward and recently spread to Rhode Island. In many of these areas defoliation has occurred almost every year since the infestation began. As a result, many trees have started to die. Similar winter moth invasions occurred in Nova Scotia in the 1950s and in the Pacific northwest in the 1970s. In each case, outbreaks were permanently controlled by introducing C. albicans, Elkinton adds.

"Because C. albicans was so successful in controlling winter moth in Nova Scotia and the Pacific northwest, it was natural for us to introduce it here in New England using flies my colleagues and I collected in British Columbia," he notes.

A great advantage of C. albicans is that it is highly specialized to prey on winter moths, so it does not spread to other species. Further, its numbers decline once it gains control, the entomologist points out. It is not attracted to humans or our homes and buildings, so the only impact people will notice is the decline in tree damage.

The researchers have conducted DNA tests that prove the flies recovered in 2010 and 2011 are identical to those they released. "Our experience now matches closely the Nova Scotia project wherein the yearly releases began in 1954, but no recoveries at all were made until 1959. Previous experience in Nova Scotia or British Columbia suggests that the levels of parasitism should now build rapidly in eastern Massachusetts over the next few years," Elkinton says.

"Now that we know that single releases with a few hundred flies can result in establishment here in New England, we can spread the flies we have to more new sites." He and his team have now released about 700 flies at each of nine new sites in 2011, including one in Rhode Island.

They also collected 61,000 winter moth pupae that contain C. albicans larva in British Columbia and have sequestered them in the USDA quarantine lab at Otis Air Force Base for release next year in Massachusetts. "Previous experience tells us that about 50 percent of these pupae will contain immature C. albicans. Assuming that we can successfully rear most of these to the adult stage next spring, by May 2012 we should have more flies to release than ever before," says Elkinton.

The UMass Amherst winter moth control project was begun in 2005 with support from the Massachusetts Legislature, and later the USDA and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Though budget cutbacks threaten to slow progress, Elkinton is hopeful that efforts will continue to release flies at new locations, because it takes time for only a few thousand flies to catch up with the estimated trillions of winter moths now munching their way across eastern and central Massachusetts.


Contact: Joe Elkinton
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Related biology news :

1. UMass med school professor wins coveted emerging-investigator award
2. UMass Amherst biologists use GPS to map bats teeth to explore evolutionary adaptations to diet
3. UMASS Medical Schools human stem cell bank makes available first seven stem cell lines
4. UMass Medical School study points to genetic link in apnea of prematurity
5. Mass Biologic Labs/UMass Med School and Medarex license C. difficile monoclonal antibody to Merck
6. Entomologists launch the 5,000 Insect Genome Project (i5k)
7. UC Riverside entomologists propose pesticide-free method to increase egg production
8. Discovery by UC Riverside entomologists could shrink dengue-spreading mosquito population
9. UC Riverside faculty member joins elite group of entomologists
10. UCR entomologists to develop special bacteria to combat spread of mosquito-borne diseases
11. UC Riverside entomologists say biocontrol of insect pest in the Galapagos Islands is a major success
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
UMass Amherst entomologists begin to control winter moth infestation in eastern Massachusetts
(Date:9/28/2015)... , Sept. 28, 2015 CLEAR, ... that its expedited traveler service is coming ... transforms travel, bringing a frictionless experience, serious ... "CLEAR offers our travelers an ... service," said Jim Smith , Executive ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... 28, 2015 The global ... USD 12.03 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR ... as Backside Illumination (BSI) technique to improve picture quality ... period.      (Logo: , ... to reduce loss and, thus, reduce the noise interference ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Sept. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... developer of human interface solutions, today announced that Lenovo ... area touch fingerprint sensor, FS4202, for its latest smartphone, ... enables secure, password-free access to unlock the device and ... consumers. The feature-rich Natural ID FS4202 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 13, 2015  Cepheid (Nasdaq: ... quarter ending September 30, 2015. --> ... results, total revenue for the third quarter of 2015 ... loss per share is expected to be approximately $(0.32) ... results, non-GAAP net loss per share for the third ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... Research and Markets( ) has announced ... for Bone Morphogenetic Protein Growth Factor Therapy - 16 ... --> --> Bone morphogenetic proteins ... bone after a fracture. In nature, these proteins have ... of the skeleton. There are twenty different BMPs that ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... AxioMx Inc. ... it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant (1R43GM112204-01A1). ... General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), will fund the development of a technique to rapidly ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... 13, 2015  According to Kalorama Information, the ... $102 billion by the end of 2015. Clinical ... industry, as it is estimated that approximately 80% ... tests. In addition to diagnosing patients, clinical lab ... progression, monitor drug treatment and conditions, and determine ...
Breaking Biology Technology: