Hyphantria cunea host preferences

Pierre Zagatti zagatti at versailles.inra.fr
Wed Nov 4 04:06:11 EST 1998

Stephen S. Cox wrote:
> I am a new graduate student doing a paper on the host species preferences of
> the Fall Webworm,
> (Hyphantria cunea) in the Keene, NH area.  Here it has an
> extreme prediliction for Black Cherry (Prunus
> serotina).  I am unable to
> find any references specifically on H. cunea host selection factors,
> although
> I note that it appears very polyphagic in horticultural reports
> from around the country.
> I would appreciate any direction for sources of
> information on this topic.

Hyphantria cunea is normally a polyphagous insect on deciduous trees, 
especially in the areas where it is a pest. The natural host plant
in North America is Acer negundo L. 
I have no exact references on host preferences (my references concern
mating behaviour), but I remember that a team at Tokyo University
some 20 papers on biology of the Fall Webworm in the 70's, under the
general title
'Biology of Hyphantria cunea Drury (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) in Japan: I,
II, III...'
All appeared in Applied Entomology and Zoology.

Concerning the polyphagy, it may vary considerably with populations. In
the moth was introduced in the early seventies in the region of
and the authorities were afraid about a possible extension of the
During my Master Degree, I started to study the pheromone of H. cunea in
(Einhorn et al, 1982, C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris 294 (2): 41-44). To obtain
females, I got adults in Bordeaux at light traps, then tried to rear the
larvae on natural foliage. Well, all larvae died on Quercus, Carpinus,
and Acer spp., except Acer negundo. Now 20 years later, the moth is
restricted to the suburbs of Bordeaux, where negundo maple is present as
ornamental tree, without visible extension of its range.

I presume that the accidental introduction originated from a limited
of moths or larvae, thus providing insufficient genetic variability in
French population to adapt to other plants.

You, Americans, have still to learn to send us send us healthy pests
as we did in France for 2 centuries :-)


INRA Unite de Phytopharmacie et Mediateurs Chimiques
78026 Versailles Cedex
Tel: (33) 1 30 83 31 18
e-mail zagatti at versailles.inra.fr

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