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Extreme cold weather causes the collapse of a population of Lambdina fiscellaria (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) in the Laurentian Mountains of Québec, Canada

  • Johanne Delisle (a1), Michèle Bernier-Cardou (a1) and Alain Labrecque (a1)


In 2012, an unexpected outbreak of Lambdina fiscellaria (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) occurred in the Laurentian Mountains, Québec, Canada, known for its harsh climate. We wondered whether the eggs were sufficiently cold hardy to survive there and, if so, how long this outbreak would last. Therefore, we assessed the capacity of the eggs to supercool, to tolerate short exposures to low sub-zero temperatures, or to successfully overwinter in the field. The same assays were performed with eggs from the island of Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The mean supercooling point of eggs from the two populations increased from −40.2 °C in mid-February to −33.7 °C in mid-May. These eggs may also die at sub-zero temperatures above their supercooling point, depending on exposure durations. In the fall of 2012 when eggs were put out in the field, < 10% survived in the Laurentian Mountains, whereas > 70% survived further south. In the spring of 2013, no parasitism was detected in the population. However, the two cold waves that swept across the Laurentian Mountains the preceding winter were likely responsible for the collapse of the population. This study demonstrates that L. fiscellaria eggs may succumb to sub-zero temperatures above their supercooling point under field conditions.

En 2012, une épidémie inattendue de Lambdina fiscellaria (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) s’est déclarée dans les Laurentides, une région froide du Québec, Canada. Nous avons donc examiné si les œufs étaient suffisamment résistants au froid pour y survivre et si oui, combien de temps durerait l’épidémie. Pour ce faire, la capacité des œufs à entrer en surfusion, à tolérer de courtes expositions sous les 0 °C ou à hiverner avec succès a été mesurée. Des œufs de l’Ⓘle de Terre-Neuve, Terre-Neuve et Labrador, Canada ont aussi été testés. Les points de surfusion des œufs des deux populations sont passés de −40.2 °C (mi-février) à −33.7 °C (mi-mai). Selon la durée d’exposition, les œufs pouvaient aussi mourir à des températures supérieures à leurs points de surfusion. À l’automne 2012, lorsque les œufs ont été placés sur le terrain, < 10% ont survécu dans les Laurentides comparativement à > 70% plus au sud. Au printemps 2013, aucun parasitisme n’a été détecté dans la population. Cependant, les froids qui ont balayé les Laurentides l’hiver précédent ont vraisemblablement causé le déclin de cette population. Cette étude démontre que les œufs de L. fiscellaria peuvent succomber à des températures supérieures à leurs points de surfusion sur le terrain.


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Subject editor: Hervé Colinet



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