Relating Aerial Deposition of Entomophaga maimaiga Conidia (Zoopagomycota: Entomophthorales) to Mortality of Gypsy Moth (Lepidoptera: Erebidae) Larvae and Nearby Defoliation

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We collected data on mortality of late-instar gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.), from outbreak populations over 4 wk in June 2017 at 10 sites in the New England region of the United States, along with estimated rainfall at these sites. Deposition of airborne conidia of the fungal pathogen, Entomophaga maimaiga Humber, Shimazu & R.S. Soper, was measured at these same sites as well as at seven other locations in New England. We also quantified the geographical distribution of gypsy moth-caused defoliation in New England in 2017 and 2018 from Landsat imagery. Weekly mortality of gypsy moth larvae caused by E. maimaiga correlated with local deposition of conidia from the previous week, but not with rainfall. Mortality from this pathogen reached a peak during the last 2 wk of gypsy moth larval development and always exceeded that caused by LdNPV, the viral pathogen of gypsy moth that has long been associated with gypsy moth outbreaks, especially prior to 1989. Cotesia melanoscela (Ratzeburg) was by far the most abundant parasitoid recovered and caused an average of 12.6% cumulative parasitism, but varied widely among sites. Deposition of E. maimaiga conidia was highly correlated with percent land area defoliated by gypsy moths within distances of 1 and 2 km but was not significantly correlated with defoliation at distances greater than 2 km. This is the first study to relate deposition of airborne conidia of E. maimaiga to mortality of gypsy moths from that agent.

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Environmental Entomology