Gypsy Moth Tree Mortality Impacts in Southwestern Virginia

Authors: Travis Bradshaw*, Liberty University
Topics: Biogeography
Keywords: Biogeography, non-native insects, hardwood forests
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the late 1860s, gypsy moths were accidentally released in Massachusetts. They were first observed in Virginia’s forests in the late 1980s, after a 120 year southwestern expansion. They first appeared in Southwestern Virginia in the late 2000s. Gypsy moths eat over 500 different types of trees and plants. They prefer oak and other hardwood species that make up approximately 80% of Virginia’s forests. Gypsy moths are among the most destructive pests in the eastern US, causing hundreds of millions of dollars per year in timber losses. This study, undertaken in September of 2018, involved a convenience sample of gypsy moth related tree mortality on two one acre plots. The plots were adjacent to a designated wilderness area in a remote section of Bland County, in Southwestern Virginia. The sites were on the same south facing mountain less than one kilometer apart. The sites were select cut last in the 1970s. They were more than two kilometers from the nearest road and have remained generally untouched for over 40 years. Site one was classified as a higher gypsy moth hazard, with poor ground, a steep slope, and more direct access to westerly winds. Site two had richer soils, was relatively flat, and was near a spring. This poster examines tree mortality by species for all trees with a diameter of six inches at five feet above ground level for both sites. Overall tree mortality was one-third, with variances in oak species ranging from 14% to 75% by site.

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