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Forest Disturbance Processes

Development of the Euproctis chrysorrhoea Baculovirus as a Microbial Control for the Browntail Moth

Research Issue

[photo] Browntail moth over-wintering webs on cherry and beach plum along the coast of Maine.The browntail moth, Euproctis chrysorrhoea, is a nonnative pest of forested and urban landscapes on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the Casco Bay area of Maine.  Browntail moth larvae cause significant and at times complete defoliation in infested areas and severe rashes and breathing problems in people contacting larval hairs.  Infested areas in Maine are being treated with chemical insecticides to control browntail moth.  However, due to the shellfish and lobster industries in these areas the preferred control agent is nonchemical.  No control measures are being employed on Cape Cod.

 Our Research

[photo] Browntail moth larvae emerging from an over-wintering web in spring.

The E. chrysorrhoea nucleopolyhedrovirus (EcNPV) offers the advantage of being able to control the browntail moth while having no adverse impact on lobsters and shellfish.  In addition, insect host range studies suggest that the EcNPV is specific for the browntail moth.  The EcNPV has been demonstrated to be an efficacious browntail moth control agent in field trials in England.  However, the virus is not being used in the U.S. because its efficacy has not been demonstrated here.  Field studies will be performed to assess EcNPV efficacy and to establish appropriate application rates for effective control.

Expected Outcomes

The efficacy of EcNPV for control of the browntail moth will be assessed and, if appropriate, field application rates will be determined.

Research Results

Slavicek, J.; Elkinton, J.; Podgwaite, J.  2005.  Control of the browntail moth in Maine with a baculovirus.  In: Gottschalk, Kurt W., ed. Proceedings, XV U.S. Department of Agriculture Interagency Research Forum on Gypsy Moth and Other Invasive Species, 2004. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-332. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 73.

Elkinton, J.S.; Slavicek, J.M.; Boettner, G.H., Podgwaite, J.D.  2004.  Evaluation of browntail moth suppression with a baculovirus.  In: Gottschalk, Kurt W., ed. Proceedings, XIV U.S. Department of Agriculture Interagency Research Forum on Gypsy Moth and Other Invasive species, 2003. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-315. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 19.

Research Participants

Principal Investigator

  • James Slavicek, Project Leader and Research Biologist, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Research Partners

  • John Podgwaite, Microbiologist, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station
  • Vince D’Amico, Entomologist, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station
  • Joe Elkinton, University of Massachusetts

Last Modified: 10/19/2010

About this Research Area

Science theme: Managing with Disturbance

Science Topic: Invasive Species

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Slavicek, J., Elkinton, J., Podgwaite, J.  2005.  Control of the Browntail Moth in Maine with a Baculovirus.  In: Gottschalk, Kurt W., ed. Proceedings, XV U.S. Department of Agriculture interagency research forum on gypsy moth and other invasive species 2004;. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-332. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 73.