Tracking Tetroons to Evaluate Tobacco Budworm and Bollworm Migration

J.K. Westbrook, W.W. Wolf, P.D. Lingren, J.R. Raulston


The tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (F.), and the bollworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), are pests that are suspected to migrate from cultivated habitats such as corn fields and native habitats such as weeds to annually infest cotton production areas. Tetrahedral-shaped mylar balloons (tetroons) were launched and tracked as surrogates of migrating bollworm moths during peak emergence from fruiting corn fields in Texas in 1992 and 1993. Tetroons were tracked at night by a Cross-chained Loran Atmospheric Sounding System (CLASS) and by the Argos satellite. Tetroon track measurements revealed mean atmospheric displacements of greater than 300 km per 9-h nocturnal period at altitudes of concentrated bollworm migration in the South-Central U.S. Mobile scanning radars positioned along tetroon trajectories on the Texas High Plains in August 1992 detected moths flying at mean air speeds of 4.5 m/s with mean headings of 25( ) counterclockwise to the wind direction. Incorporation of these results in predictive models should improve their accuracy for describing tobacco budworm and bollworm migration.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1994 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 791 - 793
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998