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Biology and behavior of Lymantria mathura Moore (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae)

Marina A Zlotina, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Lymantria mathura Moore is a polyphagous defoliator of hardwood trees in the Russian Far East, Japan, India, and China. Its egg masses were intercepted on ships arriving to Pacific Northwest. If introduced and established in North America, L. mathura is likely to cause serious economic consequences. As a part of a program for development of monitoring and control measures, possible host range, larval air-borne dispersal, mating behavior, and pheromone communication of L. mathura were studied. Survival and development of first instars of L. mathura were examined on 24 hardwood and conifer tree species from North America, Europe, and Asia. Lymantria mathura performed well on hosts in the family Fagaceae. Survival and growth rate was high in the genus Fagus (beech) and Quercus (oak), particularly white oak group. Performance was intermediate on species of red oak group and species from Juglandaceae, Betulaceae, and Oleaceae. Survival was poor on Pinaceae. Dispersal rates, settling velocities, and diel periodicity of dispersal for both L. mathura and Asian L. dispar were studied to predict probable extent of neonate dispersal. Dispersal rates for L. mathura exceeded those of Asian and North American gypsy moths. Neonates of L. mathura weighed less and had slower settling velocities than Asian or North American gypsy moths. Pheromone-baited traps would be important for detecting introductions of L. mathura, but a sex pheromone has not yet been identified. I studied the olfactory reaction of males to females and to odor compounds in the wind tunnel. Number of males performing searching flight in a pheromone plume was lower than moths performing non-pheromone mediated flight. There was no difference in male performance when stimulated with preparations of female abdominal tip extracts or synthetic compounds derived from females. Studies of courtship showed that females initiated calling shortly after start of scotophase, and courtship occurred several hours later. Mating occurred after a calling female starts wing fanning, initiating a fanning response and flight in a nearby male. A receptive female lifts the wings and allows a male underneath. During behavioral studies, low frequency atonal sound associated with wing fanning was recorded in both sexes of L. mathura, and several other lymantriids tested for comparison. There were differences in wing beat frequencies between sexes and species.

Subject Area

Entomology|Forestry|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Zlotina, Marina A, "Biology and behavior of Lymantria mathura Moore (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae)" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9932357.