Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Effect of firebreaks on rare insects of M. F. Correllus State Forest, MA

April 2002 - May 2005


Participating Agencies

  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation

Martha's Vineyard is known to have the highest number of rare insect species of any location in Massachusetts, probably due to a lack of insecticide use in the past. We tested several means of expanding firebreaks (cutting, mowing, burning, grazing) to see which techniques are most beneficial to the rare insect species that exist on Martha's Vineyard. We found that a combination of grinding and sheep grazing produces the highest density of scrub oak stems, a requirement of many rare Lepidoptera at the site. These results have broad implications for the management of sandplain Lepidoptera throughout eastern North America.