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Potential risk of accidental introduction of Asian gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) to Australasia: effects of climatic conditions and suitability of native plants

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1 The potential risk of the establishment of the Asian strain of the gypsy moth (AGM) (Lymantria dispar) in New Zealand and Australia (Australasia) was assessed from a study of the insect's host range and potential distribution. In New Zealand, viable eggs of AGM have been continuously intercepted on cargo from Asia, and therefore there is a high probability of accidental introductions of AGM to Australasia.

2 We predicted potential distribution ranges of AGM based on climatic conditions. Asian gypsy moth is predicted to be able to persist in N and SE New Zealand and SE and SW Australia.

3 Using three populations of AGM and 59 species (seven families) of plant (55 from Australasia and four from elsewhere), we also conducted laboratory trials to examine the ability of AGM larvae to complete development on native plants from Australasia. Asian gypsy moth was able to complete development on 26 out of the 55 native species tested. Furthermore, larval performance on at least five species of Australian native plant was as good as on AGM's preferred host species (Quercus pubescens and Q. robur).

4 Larval performance of AGM was poor on all but one species of New Zealand native tree species (Nothofagus solandri), and therefore the risk of establishment in the indigenous forests of New Zealand is considered to be low.

5 Given the suitability of some Australian plants and the climatic suitability for the establishment of AGM, this insect should be treated as a serious quarantine threat and managed accordingly, particularly in Australia.

Keywords: Acacia; Australia; Callistemon; Corymbia; Eucalyptus; Grevillea; Melaleuca; New Zealand; Nothofagus; Pinus; Podocarpus; Quercus; biosecurity; climex

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: CSIRO European Laboratory, Campus International de Baillarguet, Montferrier-sur-Lez, 34980 France, 2: CSIRO Entomology, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601 Australia,

Publication date: 2001-11-01

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