Insects that strip the leaves from trees are a major economic liability for temperate forests around the world. One such insect, the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), defoliates to the tune of $3.2 billion every year in North America. And scientists expect an increase in defoliator outbreaks due to climate change.
This may mean an uptick in aerial applications of insecticides, a controversial practice in forests for its potential adverse effects on nontarget insects. Aerial spraying could be refined and improved through field studies, but spraying by piloted aircraft is expensive and covers large areas, which makes it difficult to design experiments, much less replicate them. And many countries tightly regulate aerial spraying, often banning the practice except during outbreaks.
Read more on this story at Entomology Today