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The case of the chewing
BY Christine Bowen
ON October 9, 2017

If you had case of biophilia and did got out this past weekend, you may have noticed how some tree leaves look a little chewed up. Especially the oaks?  That’s the handy work of the Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar), an invasive species that has been around since the 1860’s.
 
Why is it a problem?The gypsy moth larvae and caterpillars feed on tree leaves. If populations are high, they can quickly defoliate a tree, especially their preferred food source: oak trees. Tt has defoliated over 500,000 ha/yr of trees. Defoliation, although not always harmful it itself, can have many harmful effects.  Defoliated trees have reduced resistance to other harmful biotic and abiotic factors, such as drought.  It can also affect the entire ecosystem by increasing carbon dioxide release and causing changes to succession patterns  nitrogen cycling and watershed characteristics; all of which  affect the local wildlife. They even affect us, as Gypsy Moths cause respiratory health concerns as caterpillars cause have urticating hairs and produce frass that irritate lungs.
 
Why is it so successful? It can use over 300 species as a host and feed on 500 plant species! Furthermore, many materials are capable of spreading egg masses and pupae of the Gypsy Moth; vehicles, campers, outdoor furniture, and even swing sets. This is why it’s so important to follow those rules about not transporting firewood.
 
1.Clark, K. L., N. Skowronski, and J. Hom. (2009). Invasive insects impact forest carbon dynamics. Global Change Biology, 16(1), 88-101.
 
2.Davidson, C. B., K.W. Gottschalk, and J.E. Johnson. (1999). Tree mortality following defoliation by the European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) in the United States: a review. Forest Science, 45(1), 74-84.
 
3.Doane, C. C., and M.L.  McManus. (Eds.). (1981). The gypsy moth: research toward integrated pest management (No. 1584). US Department of Agriculture.
 
4.Dodds, K. J., and D. A. Orwig. (2011). An invasive urban forest pest invades natural environments—Asian longhorned beetle in northeastern US hardwood forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 41(9), 1729-1742.
 
5.Frost, C. J., and M.D. Hunter. (2004). Insect canopy herbivory and frass deposition affect soil nutrient dynamics and export in oak mesocosms.Ecology, 85(12), 3335-3347.
 
6.Foss, L. K., and  L.K. Rieske. (2003). Species‐specific differences in oak foliage affect preference and performance of gypsy moth caterpillars. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 108(2), 87-93.
 
7.Grosholz, E. D. (1996). Contrasting rates of spread for introduced species in terrestrial and marine systems. Ecology, 77(6), 1680-1686.
 
8.Lippitt, C. D., J. Rogan, J. Toledano, F. Sangermano, J.R. Eastman, V. Mastro, and A. Sawyer. (2008). Incorporating anthropogenic variables into a species distribution model to map gypsy moth risk. ecological modelling,210(3), 339-350.
 
9.McManus, M., and G. Csóka. (2007). History and impact of gypsy moth in North America and comparison to the recent outbreaks in Europe. Acta Silvatica et Lignaria Hungarica, 3, 47-64.
Author Bio - Christine Bowen
Nature lover and protector. 
Nature lover and protector. 

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