Host Plant Effects on Winter Moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) Larval Development and Survival

Kaitlyn O'Donnell, Joseph Elkinton, Charlene Donahue, Eleanor Groden, Jared Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The winter moth, Operophtera brumata (L.) is an invasive forest and agricultural pest in North America that causes severe defoliation to a wide range of host species. This study examines the differential larval densities, development, and survival on seven host species in midcoast Maine: red oak (Quercus rubra L., Fagales: Fagaceae), apple (Malus domestica L., Rosales: Rosaceae) and crab apple (Malus sp. L., Rosales: Rosaceae), red maple (Acer rubrum L., Sapindales: Sapindaceae), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica L., Rosales: Rosaceae), white birch (Betula papyrifera L., Fagales: Betulaceae), wild lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustiflolium L., Ericales: Ericaceae), and highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L., Ericales: Ericaceae). We also explore the degree of synchrony between selected host plants and larval hatch and its effect on survival. We found that densities, development, and survival were significantly greater on red oak (Quercus rubra) and apple (Malus sp.) than on all other target species and were lowest on pin cherry (Prunus pennsylvanica). We found low larval densities in open, wild lowbush blueberry fields; however, larvae successfully fed and developed on wild lowbush blueberry in a laboratory setting. This suggests that winter moth is a potential pest to wild lowbush blueberry in Maine if the outbreak expands to include areas with wild lowbush blueberry production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1172
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 30 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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