Previous observations show that gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar L., mortality induced by the fungus Entomophaga maimaiga Humber, Shimazu & Soper is quickly manifested as host population density increases. However, the gypsy moth nucleopolyhedrovirus (LdMNPV) lags behind the rebounding gypsy moth population. In this study, egg masses were contaminated with virus to successfully augment LdMNPV in gypsy moth populations in Virginia. Laboratory bioassays determined the approximate LdMNPV dose to apply to egg masses with and without the addition of the virus enhancer Blankophor BBH to the spray mixture. The highest dose of virus (5.3 × 105 PIBs/mL) tested without Blankophor BBH gave 82.3% mortality. Mortality for this virus dose increased to 91.8% when 1% Blankophor BBH was added. Field studies established that application of virus at an earlier date (04 April) was as efficacious as an application made at a later date (12 April); this study also included a further assessment of the addition of Blankophor BBH to the spray mixture. While application of LdMNPV + Blankophor BBH resulted in faster kill, levels of kill were similar (88.0% for early treatment and 78.8% for later treatment for virus applied alone versus 87.8% for early treatment and 89.1% for later treatment for virus + Blankophor BBH). However, a higher than expected number of cadavers in the LdMNPV + Blankophor BBH treatments had few or no polyhedral inclusion bodies (PIBs). Finally, virus infection resulting from the application of LdMNPV to pupae in June 1998 was compared with infection levels seen after the application of virus to egg masses in April 1999. The April 1999 treatment to egg masses clearly resulted in a higher kill of emerging larvae (=79.3% mortality) compared to the June 1998 treatment to female pupae (with virus incorporated into the egg masses laid by females after adult emergence) (=13.7% mortality). The virus was recovered season-long from larvae collected from populations in the treated plots (but not from control plots), indicating within season spread.
2Current address: Chemicals Affecting Insect Behavior Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705.