Host specificity of microsporidia pathogenic to the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.): Field studies in Slovakia

Leellen F. Solter, Daniela K. Pilarska, Michael L. McManus, Milan Zúbrik, Jan Patočka, Wei Fone Huang, Julius Novotný

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several species of microsporidia are important chronic pathogens of Lymantria dispar in Europe but have never been recovered from North American gypsy moth populations. The major issue for their introduction into North American L. dispar populations is concern about their safety to native non-target insects. In this study, we evaluated the susceptibility of sympatric non-target Lepidoptera to two species of microsporidia, Nosema lymantriae and Vairimorpha disparis, isolated from European populations of L. dispar and applied in field plots in Slovakia. Application of ultra low volume sprays of the microsporidia maximized coverage of infective spores in a complex natural environment and, thus, exposure of non-target species to the pathogens. Of 653 non-target larvae collected from plots treated with V. disparis in 2002, 18 individual larvae representing nine species in four families were infected. These plots were monitored for two subsequent seasons and V. disparis was not recovered from non-target species. Of 2571 non-target larvae collected in N. lymantriae-treated sites, one larva was found to be infected. Both species of microsporidia, particularly N. lymantriae, appear to have a very narrow host range in the field, even when an inundative technique is used for their introduction. V. disparis infections in L. dispar exceeded 40% of recovered larvae in the treated study sites; infection rates were lower in sites sprayed with N. lymantriae. Several naturally-occurring pathogens were recorded from the non-target species. The most common pathogen, isolated from 21 species in eight families, was a microsporidium in the genus Cystosporogenes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Biological control
  • Cystosporogenes sp.
  • Gypsy moth
  • Host range
  • Inundative release
  • Lymantria dispar
  • Microsporidia
  • Non-target species
  • Nosema lymantriae
  • Vairimorpha disparis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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