Modeling seasonal migration of fall armyworm moths.
Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), is a highly mobile insect pest of a wide range of host crops. However, this pest of tropical origin cannot survive extended periods of freezing temperature but must migrate northward each spring if it is to re-infest cropping areas in temperate regions. The northward limit of the winter-breeding region for North America extends to southern regions of Texas and Florida, but infestations are regularly reported as far north as Québec and Ontario provinces in Canada by the end of summer. Recent genetic analyses have characterized migratory pathways from these winter-breeding regions, but knowledge is lacking on the atmosphere's role in influencing the timing, distance, and direction of migratory flights. The Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model was used to simulate migratory flight of fall armyworm moths from distinct winter-breeding source areas. Model simulations identified regions of dominant immigration from the Florida and Texas source areas and overlapping immigrant populations in the Alabama-Georgia and Pennsylvania-Mid-Atlantic regions. This simulated migratory pattern corroborates a previous migratory map based on the distribution of fall armyworm haplotype profiles. We found a significant regression between the simulated first week of moth immigration and first week of moth capture (for locations which captured ≥10 moths), which on average indicated that the model simulated first immigration 2 weeks before first captures in pheromone traps. The results contribute to knowledge of fall armyworm population ecology on a continental scale and will aid in the prediction and interpretation of inter-annual variability of insect migration patterns including those in response to climatic change and adoption rates of transgenic cultivars.