Aerial dispersal behavior of larval bagworms, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Lepidoptera: Psychidae)

David L. Cox, Daniel A. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Seasonal and daily patterns of ballooning, and behavioral processes involved in aerial dispersal of the bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Haworth), were studied on Juniperus virginiana L. in Kentucky. The aerial dispersal period began in mid-May 1983 and lasted ca. 1 month. About 75% of dispersing larvae ballooned after making a bag. Settling velocities were determined for larvae with and without bags and trailing varying lengths of silk; a model was then developed that predicts dispersal distance for a particular wind speed and departure height. Most aerial dispersal is probably short-range. The bag reduced potential dispersal distance, but larvae with bags survived ca. 2 days longer than those without bags when exposed to abiotic factors off of a host. Larvae without bags ballooned mostly in morning, whereas 80% of the larvae dispersing with a bag ballooned in the afternoon. These patterns may be related to the diel periodicity of emergence of neonate larvae from old female bags, and the subsequent behavior of 1st instars prior to dispersal. A large proportion of each cohort emigrates regardless of host condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-536
Number of pages12
JournalThe Canadian Entomologist
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1986

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to F.C. Gordon for field and laboratory assistance, and to T.W. Kim-merer, B .C. Pass, J.C. Schultz, R.A. J. Taylor, and K.V. Yeargan for critically reviewing the manuscript. We also thank Greenleaf Nurseries, Park Hill, Oklahoma, for donating the juniper trees used in this study. This research was supported in part by a grant from the International Society of Arboriculture.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Aerial dispersal behavior of larval bagworms, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Lepidoptera: Psychidae)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this