The Gyspy Moth and the threshold of extinction


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“cross the picky silkworm moth with the not-even-remotely-picky gypsy
moth and maybe you’d end up with a much more hardy source of silk
production. This plan went predictably awry when the gypsy moth larvae
escaped his backyard breeding facility”

The plan went awry before it began-- you can’t cross two different species together and expect to get some perfect animal that does exactly what you want. In fact most of the time you can’t cross two species and get anything viable. This is why my attempts to make a breeding colony of griffins failed.


Well, yes. I did mention he was an artist and amateur entomologist? :wink:


I always feel kind of like a hypocrite talking shit about other invasive species.


Here in Hawaii the coqui frog is very invasive and irritating form its high decibel mating calls. Any ideas for practical ways to control them? The best general approach is to spray with citric acid, but that just makes a temporary perimeter. I’m imagining a coqui radio station everyone could tune in and broadcast competing calls. Ideally you’d needs tons of very cheap solar-powered radios set up away from human listeners…

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For anyone who likes to learn about invasive species, you should check out the Reddit page dedicated to the subject:

“It’s as if somebody released millions of friendly chatbots into one city’s OKCupid sphere.”

Don’t worry Space_Monkey; they’ve got our number.

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In fact most of the time you can’t cross two species and get anything viable.

Depends on the species. Natural hybridization is pretty common in some groups of organisms and has even led to the establishment of new species (though nothing quite as spectacular as griffins).

Trouvelot probably equated the gypsy moth and silkmoth with the horse and donkey (members of the same genus), but they’re more like horses and rhinos (members of related families).

Living in central Massachusetts, I remember the gypsy moth explosion back in the early 80s. It was truly disgusting. You couldn’t walk outside without stepping on them, they hung by silk threads from trees so bicycling was–let’s just say–interesting, they could cover sides of houses and many people actually entered therapy to deal with the incessant chewing they could hear at night.

There were dire warnings that this would be repeated every umpty-something years, but since then I’ve heard little about them, and the boom/bust cycle thankfully never seemed to materialize. I think they used B-t bacteria against them, though I guess they’re still around as a pest.

How practical would it be to slowly advance this pheromone barrier towards the northeast, surround them and completely eradicate them?

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The chewing and the cycling, yes, I remember these too.

On the latter, less colliding with “danglers” than just getting the impression that your rear wheel was leaving a slimy trail of green guts behind you, as you plowed through the road. God, they were all over everything.

I had a friend insist at me that the chewing sound was actually the sound of the continuous rain of shit pattering the ground as the innumerable caterpillars ate and ate, and I believed him for a while. But in retrospect the chewing explanation is both more plausible and more subtly disturbing.

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were not invasive, god made this planet for us! duh

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