Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne

Second Advisor

Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux

Third Advisor

Dr. Gillian Galford


Spongy moth, outbreak, Vermont, UAS, drone, remote sensing


Lymantria dispar dispar (spongy moth) is an invasive moth species that causes defoliation and damage to tree canopies across forests in the Northeast United States. In the first large outbreak in Vermont (2021-2022) since 1991, there was a timely opportunity to gain insights into potential monitoring techniques for this forest pest. Remote sensing data and analysis is a common approach to help interpret the impacts of forest disturbances. Although satellite imagery and analysis has been a popular method for studying forest disturbances, coupling remote sensors with unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS or drones), provides a new, powerful and efficient way to monitor invasive pest defoliation. This study explores UAS and satellite data of Little Hogback Community Forest in Monkton, Vermont, which experienced an outbreak of LDD moths in 2021 and 2022. UAS flights collected multispectral imagery (ranging from 6 to 10 cm resolution) and LiDAR data (ranging from 3 to 6 cm resolution). Planet Explorer was used to acquire 3-meter resolution satellite imagery. Analysis in eCognition and ArcGIS Pro revealed the heaviest defoliation in June of 2021, containing the lowest relative area of healthy trees. By August of 2021, the tree foliage had returned, and by July of 2022 the site was almost entirely healthy and foliated. Based on this study, limitations and potential use cases for UAS and satellite data are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.