The Nun Moth in European Spruce Forests

  • Broder Bejer
Part of the Population Ecology book series (POPE)


The Nun Moth, Lymantria monacha (Linnaeus) (Lepidoptera: Lymantridae), owes its name to its similarity to another moth, the monk (Panthea coenobita), which also has a black and white monk-cloak coloring. It is the classic insect pest of the spruce forests of Europe. Why this is so can be understood by the following description of an outbreak in (then) East Prussia (now Poland—Russia):

On the 27th of July 1853 the forests were invaded by clouds of moths carried by the south winds from Poland. The swarms spread out and it looked as if the forests had been hit by a snowstorm. The outbreak reached its height in 1855 and the larvae then no more discriminated between conifers and decidious trees. They ate everything and of all ages, even in the afforestations, so at last no green leaf was to be seen. The branches of both pine and spruce were so heavy with the weight of larvae that they drooped towards the ground and the falling of excrement sounded like persistent rain. In June and July 1855 great swarms of parasitic flies and wasps began to show up. They stung the Nun Moth larvae which then became sick and fell from the trees. Lying on the forest floor in a layer more than one foot thick they filled the forests with an abominable stench. When the Nun stopped Ips typographus started.


Gypsy Moth Flight Period Pheromone Trap Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus Forest Pest 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Broder Bejer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest Entomology and EcologyRoyal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityCopenhagenDenmark

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