Noctua pronuba in USA

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Fri Jan 15 07:35:46 EST 1999

When a critter is funny-looking and bright-colored, it is usually also
toxic. Or pretending to be. (Mullerian and Batesian mimicry are involved
here, if you want to be technical.)
If this moth is not in fact toxic, the local birds etc. will presently
figure this out and the population will level off. 
Many bugs (for instance) handle this phenomenon  by suddenly saturating
the area with adults, which mate and die off before the birds etc. learn
that they are, indeed edible. The extra food, in other words, is gone
before the predator population can increase to handle it. 
It takes a while, as I say, before the natives learn to exploit a new
source of food. That's why biocontrol is such a scary thing ... nature
takes time, and we're always in a hurry. 
John Grehan, I've taken some teleological shortcuts here; I do not
propose to wrangle with you about first causes. Lighten up. 
Anne Kilmer
South Florida

Jonathan Sylvestre wrote:
> Dear Jo
> I agree that pronuba is a very prolific species... This "new" problem
> preoccupy me... Maybe this moth will enter in competition with other moths
> or insects... I don't know which host plant this species "use" here, in
> North America, but maybe this plant will suffer...I don't think that this
> species is toxic or don't eaten by predator but the population of this
> species increase rapidly. In the particularly hot summer we had here, in
> 1998, These moth were everywhere... The cold winter here not seem to be a
> barrier... if you find any information, let me know...
> If anyone have an opinion about that, IM sure that everybody would like to
> hear it...
> thank
> NJMoth at the.light a écrit dans le message
> <369e8bbb.1536480 at>...
> >In response to Jonathan (I am also Jonathan!) and any others out there
> >with questions about this species: It is an introduced Old World
> >(Palearctic) species, which was purportedly first introduced in Canada
> >about 1994 or so, and has since been spreading throughout Eastern
> >North America. In the US, it has been recorded from most of the
> >Eastern Seaboard through New England, New York, New Jersey (I hold the
> >first record of this species from NJ; it is now common here) and south
> >to at least Delaware, and west to at least Pennsylvania and Ohio. This
> >species is spreading at an incredibly fast rate, and unfortunately has
> >pest potential; in Britain and other parts of Europe it is a pest on
> >cultivated vegetable crops. It is also a prolific breeder and rather
> >"aggressive" as evidenced by its rapid dispersal and colonization, and
> >therefore I am concerned may threaten the stability of native species'
> >populations. Further information and photos will be posted on my site,
> >when that becomes ready for public viewing. No American/Canadian
> >literature that I am aware of concerning Noctuidae or moths in general
> >treats this species; it is too new of a phenomenon.

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