Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Effects of Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) defoliation on performance of the pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa).

Abstract

The pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) is an important defoliating insect of native cedar stands in Northern Africa. In 2002 and 2003, we studied the size of needles of Atlas cedar trees that had been defoliated or not in the previous year, and compared the oviposition preference and larval performance of processionary moth on these two types of trees in cedar stands of central Algeria. Needle length and their number per needle cluster were twice as high on non-defoliated trees than on defoliated trees. There were about ten times fewer egg batches on defoliated than on non-defoliated trees in both study years. Young larvae raised in the laboratory on the foliage of previously defoliated trees were smaller compared to those fed on the foliage from healthy trees. Larval colonies transferred to trees in the field showed two times higher mortality on defoliated trees. It was concluded that the decline in population density in defoliated stands often observed after outbreaks results both from the fact that the female moths avoid laying their eggs on defoliated trees and the lower performance of larvae which later feed on the new-grown needles.