Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
Dr. Sara Helms Cahan
Dr. Yolanda Chen
Dr. Clare Ginger
ant, slug, lanternfly, invasive, Pennsylvania
Invasive species pose a significant threat to ecosystems. The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), an invasive species in the northeastern USA, consumes plant phloem and produces sugary honeydew, which in turn is often covered by sooty mold. Honeydew is a high value resource for ants that fuels worker activity and competitive interactions, and as such the presence of L. delicatula has the potential to impact the diversity and composition of ant communities. Furthermore, the presence of sooty mold and the honeydew itself provides additional resources for land slugs, important seed predators and a prey item for many predators. To test for an effect of L. delicatula invasion on ant and land slug populations, I collected invertebrate samples using pitfall traps at four locations in Pennsylvania, two within and two outside of the current range of L. delicatula, during the summers of 2020 and 2021. Principal component analysis identified distinctive community compositions associated with the presence of L. delicatula, most strongly differentiated by the high incidence of Aphaenogaster picea and low incidence of Camponotus chromaiodes at locations outside the current range of L. delicatula. Aphaenogaster species in the rudis species complex, including A. picea, are important seed dispersers and are known to be yielding in interspecific interactions, while C. chromaiodes is known to be more aggressive. These data suggest that the presence of L. delicatula may favor ant species which exhibit high interspecific aggression and can dominate the additional food sources it provides. Additionally, land slug abundance was significantly higher at locations infested by L. delicatula. Thus, two additional avenues were identified by which L. delicatula can exert a cascading effect on the Pennsylvania forest ecosystem.
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Sorrentino, Jacob A., "THE EFFECTS OF THE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY ON ANT AND LAND SLUG POPULATIONS IN EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA" (2022). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 501.