Presentation Title

The effects of the spotted lanternfly on ant and terrestrial slug population in eastern Pennsylvania

Presenter's Name(s)

Jacob A. Sorrentino, UVMFollow

Abstract

Invasive species, a pervasive ecological dilemma, can be hugely detrimental to the biodiversity of natural systems and local economies. The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), a species of Asian planthopper recently introduced to eastern Pennsylvania, drains plants to produce copious amounts of sugary honeydew, which impacts local ecologies and promotes sooty mold. Ants are influential predators and scavengers, whose behaviors can be drastically altered by sugar availability. While the relationships between ants and honeydew-producing insects is well understood, the specific impacts of the spotted lanternfly on ant populations in Pennsylvania forest ecosystems is not. In addition, the honeydew and sooty mold created by the activity of the spotted lanternfly may impact the populations of terrestrial slugs. Important and ubiquitous detritivores and fungivores in these forest ecosystems, changes in terrestrial slug populations could have tangible impacts to ecological systems. This study will examine the effects of the spotted lanternfly on ant species diversity and terrestrial slug abundance using pitfall traps in eastern Pennsylvania, comparing areas affected by spotted lanternfly and areas which have yet to be invaded. I hypothesize that the presence of the lanternfly will have a negative impact on ant species diversity and a positive effect on terrestrial slug abundance.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Sara Cahan

Graduate Student Mentors

Lindsey Cathcart

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources

Program/Major

Natural Resources

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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The effects of the spotted lanternfly on ant and terrestrial slug population in eastern Pennsylvania

Invasive species, a pervasive ecological dilemma, can be hugely detrimental to the biodiversity of natural systems and local economies. The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), a species of Asian planthopper recently introduced to eastern Pennsylvania, drains plants to produce copious amounts of sugary honeydew, which impacts local ecologies and promotes sooty mold. Ants are influential predators and scavengers, whose behaviors can be drastically altered by sugar availability. While the relationships between ants and honeydew-producing insects is well understood, the specific impacts of the spotted lanternfly on ant populations in Pennsylvania forest ecosystems is not. In addition, the honeydew and sooty mold created by the activity of the spotted lanternfly may impact the populations of terrestrial slugs. Important and ubiquitous detritivores and fungivores in these forest ecosystems, changes in terrestrial slug populations could have tangible impacts to ecological systems. This study will examine the effects of the spotted lanternfly on ant species diversity and terrestrial slug abundance using pitfall traps in eastern Pennsylvania, comparing areas affected by spotted lanternfly and areas which have yet to be invaded. I hypothesize that the presence of the lanternfly will have a negative impact on ant species diversity and a positive effect on terrestrial slug abundance.