Natural Control of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar and Notes on Its Status as a Forest Pest

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The eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum (F.), completely defoliated several forest stands of black cherry, Prunus serotina Ehrh., in West Virginia in 1960. Because of possible growth losses and defects in the wood related to heavy defoliation, it was concluded that the eastern tent caterpillar should be considered a potentially important forest pest in high-value black cherry stands.

Studies on the parasites of the eastern tent caterpillar showed that Theronia atalantae fulvescens (Cresson) reached peak populations 1 week later later than Itoplectis conquisitor (Say). With both species of parasites, males issued from prepupae more commonly than females. Eightynine to 94% of the parasites from pupae issued from the anterior end and 60 to 100% of the parasites from prepupae issued from the posterior end. T. atalantae fulvescens, in addition to being a common primary parasite, was also a hyperparasite attacking the primary pupal parasite, I. conquisitor. Gelis tenellus (Say) was an important hyperparasite attacking the larval parasites Hyposoter fugitivus fugitivus (Say) and Phobocampe clisiocampe (Weed). Itoplectis conquisitor was occasionally a hyperparasite of H. fugitivus fugitivus, but produced only undersized males in such cases. The apparent causes of pupal mortality of the tent caterpillar were recorded during 4 weekly collections. Although the various mortality agents varied in importance from week to week the total mortality rate remained stable between 95 and 99%. Thirty-two species of parasites, predators, and associated scavengers are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1965

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