Introduced Species: Accidentals, Invasive Species and Biological Controls

Gypsy Moth
Tom Murray - MA

There are two kinds of accidentals, one attributed to man and one to nature. The well-known Gypsy Moth was, about 1869, brought to Medford, Massachusetts in order to experiment in domestic silk production. Escaping from captivity a very local population was established that soon expanded beyond any possibility of control, resulting in periodic ravaging of forested areas. A Eurasian fly, Compsilura concinnata, was brought in as a biological control agent. Unfortunately, it may be having a terribly adverse affect on some of our native moth species.

A "natural" accidental, Eudocima serpentifera, was captured in an ultra-violet light trap in Louisiana, by Vernon A. Brou on October 25, 2006. This is a tropical member of the noctuid subfamily Catocalinae, and is known from Brazil and the Dominican Republic. It adds an interesting note to a checklist, but will probably leave no progeny.

Eudocima serpentifera - (2006)
Vernon A. Brou, Jr. - LA

  Anatomy of an Introduced Species -- Promalactis suzukiella [T]

When I ran across this moth in 2004 it was, and has remained, more common at my lights than the Epicallima moth below shown at left. I sent a photo of it to John Glaser who discovered an unidentified specimen in his collection taken at the Severn Wildlife Management Area about 15 miles from my house. According to Larry Line, John later collected a series of specimens which were sent to the USNM where David Adamski identified them as a species of Promalactis (somehow introduced from Japan). I found a photo of Promalactis suzukiella on a Japanese website that is a good match for this moth. However, until someone studies the genitalia this designation must remain tentative.

Orange-headed Epicallima Moth
Epicallima argenticinctella
Robert Patterson - MD

During 2005-2006 I have received photographs of this species from Oakton, Virginia (30 miles to the southwest of my home), as well as from suburban Philadelphia and from two locations in central and northern New Jersey. Also, Steve Nanz tells me that this moth is common at a park where he photographs moths at Brooklyn, NY. So it is probably fairly well established throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Where, when and how this moth became established in the United States will never be known. We only know so far that the moth was present in Maryland at least by 2003. It could be hypothesized that it arrived in the form of eggs or pupae in ornamental bonsai sent to the United Nations or to an embassy is Washington. However it got here, it is now well established as an addition to the fauna of North America.

A selection of other introduced species is shown below.


Suzuki's Promalactis Moth
Promalactis suzukiella [T]
Robert Patterson - MD
  A Collection of an Introduced Species
Sweetpotato Armyworm Moth
Lewis Scharpf - AL

Hibiscus Leaf Caterpillar Moth
Robert Patterson - MD

Yellow-tail Moth
Alison Green - UK

European Corn Borer Moth
Robert Patterson - MD

Codling Moth
Nolie Schneider - ON

Leopard Moth
Allen Barlow - NJ

Diamondback Moth
Machele White - FL

Spindle Ermine Moth
Carroll Rudy - WI

Linden Bark Borer Moth
Lynette Schimming - NC

Double-lobed Apamea Moth (1989)
Nolie Schneider - ON

Large Yellow Underwing Moth (1979)
Janice Stiefel - WI

Rosy Rustic Moth
Robin McLeod - ON

  Moths Introduced as Biological Control Species
Waterhyacinth Moth (1976)
Robin McLeod - FL

It has now been more than 100 years since we have become aware of the value of insects as biological control of other insects and of invasive weedy plants. Beginning with the Vedalia Lady Beetle biological control experiments have been conducted with many insects. Because their larvae feed almost entirely on vegetation moths have proven to be valuable control agents in a number of cases.

In some cases our multi-pronged Integrated Pest Management practices have combined the use of an introduced moth species with members of other insect orders. There have been some spectacular success stories in this work.

The Cinnabar Moth -- Ragwort control (1960)
Ian Kimber - UK

Poison Hemlock Moth (1973)
Tom Murray - MA

Knapweed Root-borer Moth (1984)
Lynette Schimming - MT

Burdock Seedhead Moth (1970s)
Robin McLeod - ON

Toadflax Brocade Moth (1960s)
Steve Walter - NY

MothTalk/MothTalk022.htm -- 01/15/2007