Western poplar clearwing, Paranthrene robiniae (Hy. Edwards) (Lepidoptera: Sesiidae), is endemic in Pacific Northwest riparian habitats at low population densities. These moths have colonized commercial hybrid poplar (Populus spp.) plantings. Moth populations increased rapidly and became a major pest. Trap catches of male moths in mid-season surveys increased 190-fold from 95 in 2001 to >18,500 in 2002 across 6,597 ha of poplars monitored. The outbreak of western poplar clearwings was widespread in 2002. Pheromone-baited traps placed one trap per 81.75 ha over 13,274 ha of commercial poplars captured >108,000 male moths in 2002. Damage to commercial poplars included girdling of saplings and burrows in limbs and trunks of trees. Repeated applications of chlorpyrifos failed to reduce the abundance of moths in 2002. Two management strategies over two separate plantations of ≈6,500 ha each were contrasted. Future control strategies recommend a halt to the use of contact insecticides that target adult moths. Short-term (3–5 yr) control should involve a pheromone-based mating disruption strategy followed eventually by selection of a clone that is less susceptible to P. robiniae attack.
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