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Moth Behaviour and Dispersal of the Pine Looper, Bupalus Piniarius (L.) (Lepidoptera, Geometridae)

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

In studies of the dynamics of insect populations, migration and dispersion are seldom quantified separately but are included in a mortality rate, which refers mostly to the adults. Other studies describing the migration and dispersion of insects seldom explain the consequences they have for the dynamics of the population studied. The aim of this study is to connect these two aspects by describing the behaviour and dispersion of the pine looper moth, Bupalus piniarius L., and by discussing the consequences they have for the dynamics and genetics of a pine looper population. Various aspects of moth behaviour have been studied in the field and in laboratory experiments in which an aktograph has been used to record the flight activity of the moths. In two field experiments marked moths were released at one point in a pine plantation and were recaptured in sex-traps and light-traps at different distances from this point inside and outside the plantation. First a survey of the life of the moths is given, followed by its implications for the population. Males.-From the end of May till July the males emerge between 06.00-09.00 h. After 2.5 hours they fly from the ground to the crowns of the pine trees and during the following hours until about 14.00 h they sometimes fly off taking long periods of rest in between these sorties. In this time their behaviour is strongly affected by sex pheromone released by virgin females. When the male perceives pheromone, it is stimulated to fly against the wind in search for the source of the sex pheromone. If the male finds a virgin female during this period of flight activity it mates with her and after the copulation, which takes on average 2.5 hours, it settles down in the tree-crowns. In the evening, just after sunset, during about 30 min, it has a second period of flight activity, alternating the flights with rests. Apart from the process of emerging, this behaviour is repeated the following days until the male dies at about six days old. During its lifetime the male moves randomly directed through the forest. When it perceives sex pheromone does it fly against the wind. The daily displacement of a male is about 25 m and is the result of the short flights in the morning and evening. During its lifetime the maximum distance it will cover is 150 m. The males tend to stay inside the plantation. Females.-On average females emerge four days later than the males and on the day of emergence they arrive on the ground surface half an hour later than the males. They fly up to the tree crowns one hour later than the males, and settle down directly in the crowns where they start to release sex pheromone, a process they sometimes interrupt briefly by flying. When the female is found by a male they mate and she stops releasing sex pheromone. Half an hour after copulation the female deposits her first eggs on the pine needles in the crown of a tree. Once she has laid a row of eggs she rests a while near the eggs, flies away and then alights to

Affiliations: 1: Research Institute for Nature Management, Arnhem, The Netherlands


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