Are exotic lady beetles eating our native lady beetles into decline?
Native lady beetle species across the US have been in decline for several decades, which coincided with the establishment of a series of exotic lady beetle species. One theory is that direct competition through predation by exotics is the primary cause of native lady beetle decline.
This study examined the contribution of direct competition by exotics on populations of four native species. Collections from alfalfa fields were made in 13 Midwestern states. A total of 2,500 beetles were collected. A minimum of 30 individuals per species were needed before that sample was included for statistical analyses. Species specific primers were designed and PCR was preformed to examine gut contents of exotic lady beetles. Results that were unclear from the PCR were further examined by sequencing. Results of this study will clarify the rates of intraguild predation that occur among lady beetles.
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