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Title: Bioecology of the conifer swift moth, Korscheltellus gracilis, a root feeder associated with spruce-fir decline

Author: Wallner, William E.; Wagner, David L.; Parker, Bruce L.; Tobi, Donald L.;

Date: 1991

Source: In: Baranchikov, Yuri N.; Mattson, William J.; Hain, Fred P.; Payne, Thomas L., eds. Forest Insect Guilds: Patterns of Interaction with Host Trees; 1989 August 13-17; Abakan, Siberia, U.S.S.R. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-153. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 199-204

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: During the past two decades, the decline of red spruce, Picea rubens Sargent, and balsam fir, Abies balsamea (L), at high elevations (900-1200 m) in eastern North America has evoked concern about the effects of anthropogenic deposition upon terrestrial ecosystems. In many high-elevation forests across New England, as many as 50 percent of the standing red spruce are dead (Hertel et al. 1987). Wood cores indicate that growth has been severely curtailed since the 1960s (Hornbeck and Smith 1985). Although acid rain is most commonly invoked as the principal causal agent of this decline, there is yet little hard evidence to support this claim (Johnson and Siccama 1983, Pitelka and Raynol 1989). A wide array of anthropogenic pollutants in combination with natural stress factors are probably involved. Above-ground portions of declining trees appear relatively pest free, and so do the roots except for observations of a few soil-inhabiting arthropods. The most prevalent among those few was a subterranean lepidopteran polyphage, Korscheltellus gracilis Grote, found to be extremely abundant in these declining forests (Tobi et al. 1989, Wagner et al. 1987). A member of the Hepialidae family, K. gracilis is relatively unknown both in habit and distribution. In North America, documented knowledge about the biology or feeding habits of Hepialidae is limited to cursory reports on Sthenopis argenteomaculatus Harris as a borer in maple, oak, chestnut, and alder (Felt 1906). Sthenopis quadriguttatus Grote bores into the roots of aspen, cottonwood, and willow (Furniss and Carolin 1977, Gross and Syme 1981). Only one species, Hepialus mustelinus Packard, has been reported as a borer in spruce (Felt 1906, Packard 1895). In Australia the Hepialidae are among the major pests feeding on pasture grasses (Tindale 1933), and as stem borers of living trees (Tindale 1953), and tree roots (Tindale 1964).

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Wallner, William E.; Wagner, David L.; Parker, Bruce L.; Tobi, Donald L. 1991. Bioecology of the conifer swift moth, Korscheltellus gracilis, a root feeder associated with spruce-fir decline. In: Baranchikov, Yuri N.; Mattson, William J.; Hain, Fred P.; Payne, Thomas L., eds. Forest Insect Guilds: Patterns of Interaction with Host Trees; 1989 August 13-17; Abakan, Siberia, U.S.S.R. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-153. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 199-204

 


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