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Observations on the ecology of a polyhedrosis of the Great Basin tent caterpillar Malacosoma fragilis

, : Observations on the ecology of a polyhedrosis of the Great Basin tent caterpillar Malacosoma fragilis. Ecology 36(3): 373-376

In 1952 a polyhedrosis epizootic killed large numbers of larvae of tent caterpillar, Malacosoma fragilis infesting Ceanothus cordulatus in Fresno Co., Cal. Observations and tests were carried out to determine mechanisms of survival and transmission of virus over 9-10 month period between insect generations. Larvae developing in epizootic area in 1953 died of polyhedrosis during the 1st-, 2d, and particularly 3d instar . Rearings of larvae and infectivity tests of insect remnants on host plant indicated that both ovarial transmission and host plant contamination probably are important in virus transmission. Tests in which directly infected larvae were placed on plants with untreated larvae showed that when ratio of infected to non-infected larvae is high, when there is close intermingling of infected and non-infected larvae, and when direct and indirect infections occur early in larval development, disease may spread rapidly through caterpillars on a given plant.


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