The moth is probably one of
top three pests in economic damage
If the Siberian moth gets into the northern
United States and Canada, the gypsy moth would pale by comparison, says Victor
C. Mastro, director of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS) center at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts.
A major defoliator of spruce, larch, and fir forests in its native Siberia,
"the moth is probably one of Russia's top three pests in economic
damage," he says. "We want to identify and block the routes it could
take to get into this country."
Assessments by USDA's Forest Service and APHIS rank the Siberian moth,
Dendrolimus superans sibiricus, as a moderate risk for becoming
established hereand a high risk for damaging conifer forests, according
to Iral Ragenovich. She is a regional entomologist with USDA's Forest Service
in Portland, Oregon. An infestation, she adds, would also cause quarantines on
tradewithin the country as well as from outside.
Thanks to a pheromone monitoring system, the Asian gypsy moth was detected and
eradicated before it became established here, says Ragenovich.
The threat of the Siberian moth prompted Ragenovich, Mastro,
Agricultural Research Service
entomologist Jerome A. Klun in Beltsville, Maryland, and Russian entomologist
Yuri N. Baranchikov in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, to collaborate on a project to keep
the moth from emigrating. Part of the funding came from USDA's Foreign
Agricultural Service, the fourth USDA agency involved in this collaboration.
The first line of defense against the moth's invasion is to track the insect's
whereabouts and population sizes in its native habitat and at possible ports of
entry and habitats in the United States. That means using some kind of trapping
system for monitoring the pest. And trapping requires a lure.
That's where Klun's expertise in synthesizing insect pheromones came in. Klun
is with the Insect Chemical Ecology Laboratory in Beltsville.
He analyzed the real pheromone from the female Siberian moth but didn't have
enough material to positively identify it. So, based on known pheromones from
related species, he assembled seven different mixtures in time to test them
during the moth's late July 1998 mating season in Siberia.
One of those mixturesfour alcohols and four aldehydeswas as potent
as the females themselves in enticing males into traps laid by Baranchikov. He
used APHIS traps originally designed for the gypsy moth. But the trap's entry
was enlarged to accommodate the bigger Siberian moth with its nearly 3-inch
wingspan, compared to the gypsy moth's span of about 1 inch.
Last summer, Baranchikov and Ragenovich tested pure compounds provided by Klun
and found the mixture was still the best attractant. The next step is to find a
company to synthesize the best blend.
"With luck," says Mastro, "we'll begin small-scale deployment of
traps next year in forests near likely sources of introduction." By
McBride, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
This research is part of Crop Protection and Quarantine, an ARS National
Program (#304) described on the World Wide Web at