The nun moth, Lymantria monacha (nun moth), is closely related to gypsy moth in appearance and behavior. Nun moth is not known to be established in North America, is an Eurasian pest of conifers (spruce, fir, larch and pine) that poses an ever-present threat of being accidentally introduced because of its biology and behavior. It is distributed over most of Europe, across Siberia and the Russian Far East, within a band between lat 43º to 57º N. It is a major pest in Central and Eastern Europe and southeastern Siberia, as well as Spain. For example, in Poland, during the period 1987-94, the nun moth caused enormous tree losses on more than 6.3 million ha. Its establishment in North America would be disastrous because of its polyphagous feeding habits, ability to colonize new habitats, and capacity to be spread rapidly by vagile adults. Adults are readily attracted to artificial lights and have been observed in Russian Far East ports. Nun moth has a high potential to be transported via commerce because, although eggs are normally laid in tree back crevices they also could be deposited in crevices on containers, pallets, ships, etc. Regions of highest risk in North America, based on host plant availability and climate, include some 70,000 ha of western forests west of the Cascade Range, high-elevation spruce/fir/pine, and northeastern North America. We have been studying this insect in quarantine since 1996 to proactively develop tactics to prevent its introduction and establishment in North America and to provide eradication options should it be introduced.
The proactive research done under quarantine
Last Modified: 07/12/2017