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  • H. G. Wylie (a1) and G. E. Bucher (a1)

Larvae of bertha armyworm, Mamestra configurata Walk., collected in 1972–75 on rapeseed in the prairie provinces of Canada (predominantly in Manitoba), were killed by one virus, one fungus, one microsporidium, seven insect parasites, and by other factors. Mortality from disease was about 24% in 1972 when bertha armyworm was abundant, but much lower in succeeding years after the host’s population density declined. The most important hymenopterous parasite, Banchus fiavescens Cress., was relatively rare in 1972 but subsequently killed over 40% of the host larvae each year. A tachinid, Athrycia cinerea (Coq.), killed over 20% of the mature bertha armyworms in each generation. Each of the other five parasite species was associated infrequently with M. configurata. Details of the biology of each pathogen and parasite are presented. About 12% of the mature host larvae died because they failed to empty the gut, with subsequent penetration of the gut wall by bacteria, or because they did not form a morphologically-sound pupa. Pupae of M. configurata died in the soil following penetration of the gut wall by bacteria, as a result of soil cultivation, and from low temperatures in winter. No pathogens or parasites were recorded in field-collected pupae, though an ichneumonid, Ichneumon canadensis Cress., parasitized pupae in a field cage and may occasionally do so in natural conditions. No pathogens or parasites of bertha armyworm eggs were recorded. A preliminary survival model for bertha armyworm, based on estimates of mortality from various causes identified in this study, is presented. The possibility of preventing or reducing future oubreaks of M. configurata by colonizing additional parasite or pathogen species in the prairie provinces is discussed.

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The Canadian Entomologist
  • ISSN: 0008-347X
  • EISSN: 1918-3240
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-entomologist
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