Root Damage by the Conifer Swift Moth: A Mortality Factor in Montane Red Spruce Regeneration

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Red spruce seedlings potted with Korscheltellus gracilis (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) larvae exhibited characteristic feeding damage, including localized removal of bark and cambium, and root girdling. Seedling damage resulted in a significant increase in needle dieback, and reductions in growth, root area, and root weight. A survey of population density and montane distribution of larvae and adults at Whiteface Mountain (New York) and Mount Moosilauke (New Hampshire) revealed significantly higher numbers at elevations of 900-1100 m compared to 500 m, 700 m, and 1300 m. Larval densities reached a maximum mean of 38/m² on Mount Moosilauke and 11/m² on Whiteface Mountain, with higher densities recorded from the windward slopes. The potential ecological significance of K. gracilis is discussed in relation to the problem of red spruce decline. For. Sci. 38(3):611-622.

Keywords: Forest health; decline; forest entomology; larvae

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Mathematical and Statistical Services, University of Vermont, Bington 05401

Publication date: August 1, 1992

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