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WSR-88D doppler radar detection of corn earworm moth migration

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Corn earworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) (CEW) populations infesting one crop production area may rapidly migrate and infest distant crop production areas. Although entomological radars have detected corn earworm moth migrations, the spatial extent of the radar coverage has been limited to a small horizontal view above crop production areas. The Weather Service Radar (version 88D) (WSR-88D) continuously monitors the radar-transmitted energy reflected by, and radial speed of, biota as well as by precipitation over areas that may encompass crop production areas. We analyzed data from the WSR-88D radar (S-band) at Brownsville, Texas, and related these data to aerial concentrations of CEW estimated by a scanning entomological radar (X-band) and wind velocity measurements from rawinsonde and pilot balloon ascents. The WSR-88D radar reflectivity was positively correlated (r 2 = 0.21) with the aerial concentration of corn earworm-size insects measured by a scanning X-band radar. WSR-88D radar constant altitude plan position indicator estimates of wind velocity were positively correlated with wind speed (r 2 = 0.56) and wind direction (r 2 = 0.63) measured by pilot balloons and rawinsondes. The results reveal that WSR-88D radar measurements of insect concentration and displacement speed and direction can be used to estimate the migratory flux of corn earworms and other nocturnal insects, information that could benefit areawide pest management programs. In turn, identification of the effects of spatiotemporal patterns of migratory flights of corn earworm-size insects on WSR-88D radar measurements may lead to the development of algorithms that increase the accuracy of WSR-88D radar measurements of reflectivity and wind velocity for operational meteorology.

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P.D. Lingren initiated the collaboration between insect migration scientists and operational meteorologists for development of insect monitoring applications of the NEXRAD WSR-88D Doppler weather radar system. J.A. Lee and S. Fuller helped to install software, process data, and generate graphics. P.G. Schleider, E.C. Lawrence, A.A. Morrison, and J.A. Lee assisted with meteorological and radar entomological field operations. D. Priegnitz and L.R. Johnson explained the use of earlier versions of software to display WSR-88D data. S. Allen, J.D. Ward, N. Rydell, P. Yura, J. Snyder, and B. Read ensured that the requested radar scanning mode was operating when archiving WSR-88D radar data products during the field study. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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Correspondence to J. K. Westbrook.

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Westbrook, J.K., Eyster, R.S. & Wolf, W.W. WSR-88D doppler radar detection of corn earworm moth migration. Int J Biometeorol 58, 931–940 (2014).

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