High-altitude migration of the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella to the U.K.: a study using radar, aerial netting, and ground trapping


J. Chapman, Plant and Invertebrate Ecology, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden AL5 2JQ, U.K. E-mail: jason.chapman@bbsrc.ac.uk.


Abstract 1. The high-altitude wind-borne migration of the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella in the U.K. in 2000 was investigated (a) by direct monitoring of insect flight by vertical-looking radar and by aerial netting, and (b) through evidence of temporal variation in P. xylostella abundance deduced from a network of light traps.

2. Migrating P. xylostella were identified by a unique combination of size and shape data derived from the continuously operating vertical-looking radar.

3. Radar-detected migratory overflights correlated significantly with associated peaks in abundance of P. xylostella estimated by catches in a U.K.-wide light trap network; however the correlation was stronger when light trap catches were lagged by 1 day.

4. The first notable catches of P. xylostella in the U.K. occurred in early May, and were accompanied by migrations over the radar from the east.

5. Radar data and back-tracking indicated that a major wind-borne migration of P. xylostella from The Netherlands to southern England took place in early May, and that this was responsible for the establishment of the U.K. population.

6. The origin of early-season P. xylostella occurring in Britain is discussed.