The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar
(L.), is a polyphagous defoliator introduced to Medford, Massachusetts in 1869. It has spread to over 860,000 km2
in North America, but this still only represents 1/4 of its susceptible host range in the United States. To delay defoliation in the remaining susceptible host range, the government maintains a barrier zone and a quarantine, reflecting a presumption that anthropogenic factors are important in the spread of gypsy moth. We develop a model framework that relates these factors along with biophysical characteristics to a county's susceptibility to gypsy moth invasion. We then compile a dataset for counties within 200 km of the infested area and use trap catch data from 1999 to 2007 to estimate the probability of gypsy moth presence. As expected, gypsy moth is more likely to be found close to the population front and to traps that recorded moths in the previous year. However, when controlling for these factors, our most robust finding is that the use of wood for home heating and energy is consistently positively correlated with the presence of gypsy moth. In contrast, the movement of wood products by industry, which is actively regulated by state and federal governments, is rarely correlated with the presence of gypsy moth. This is consistent with effective regulation of the movement of goods by industry, but not by the public. Our findings provide empirical support for the importance and challenge of firewood as a vector for non-native forest insects.
Bigsby, Kevin M.; Tobin, Patrick C.; Sills, Erin O. 2011. Anthropogenic drivers of gypsy moth spread. Biological Invasions. 13: 2077-2090.