, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 277–288 | Cite as

Benefits and harm caused by the introduced generalist tachinid, Compsilura concinnata, in North America

  • J. S. ElkintonEmail author
  • G. H. Boettner


We review North American research on Compsilura concinnata (Meigen), a highly generalist tachinid parasitoid that was introduced in 1906 to control two invasive forest insects: gypsy moth and browntail moth. The impact on gypsy moth in natural populations in North America has long thought to be minor, a view confirmed by recent work in Canada and Wisconsin, USA. However, research with experimentally created populations of gypsy moth suggests that it may be more important than previously realized. Studies on browntail moth in both naturally occurring and experimental populations suggest that C. concinnata is probably the main reason browntail moth disappeared from most of its former range in North America. Research on giant silk moths suggests that C. concinnata has become the major source of mortality among several species and may be responsible for the notable decline in their densities that has occurred over the last century. C. concinnata has been touted as a premier example of the generalist natural enemy that should be avoided in classical biological control introductions, yet in the case of browntail moth its effect has been extremely beneficial.


Non-target impact Generalist Biological control Host range 



This research was supported by a cooperative agreement no. 42-95-0015 from the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, USDA Forest Service and grant No. DEB0089699 from the National Science Foundation. We thank the many student and non-student employees who have helped with our field research. We thank Roy van Driesche and two anonymous reviewers for suggestions and comments on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant, Soil and Insect SciencesUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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