Myrmica rubra (L.), is an invasive ant that is spreading across eastern North America. It is presently found in over 40 communities in Maine and areas in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and several provinces in the Canadian Maritimes and Ontario. In addition to disrupting native ant faunas, invasive ants also have been shown to influence homopteran abundance and species composition. We conducted surveys of Homoptera in infested and noninfested sites and conducted manipulative experiments to quantify the effects of M. rubra on homopteran abundance and composition in the summers of 2003, 2006, and 2007 on Mount Desert Island, ME. In 2003, Homoptera family-level richness was higher in infested sites compared with noninfested sites with two out of three sampling methods. Homopteran abundance in infested compared with noninfested sites depended upon the site. The sites with the highest population of M. rubra were associated with significant differences in Homoptera population abundance. In 2006 and 2007, two out of three host plants sampled had significantly higher abundances of the aphids, Aphis spiraephila Patch and Prociphilus tessellatus Fitch. An ant exclusion field experiment on the native plant, meadowsweet (Spiraea alba Du Roi), resulted in higher abundances of A. spiraephila with M. rubra tending compared with native ant tending. A predator exclusion field experiment was conducted on meadowsweet using adult ladybeetles, Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville, larval green lacewings, Chyrsoperla cornea Stephens, and no predators. Predator impacts on aphid populations were reduced in the presence of M. rubra with C. cornea and moderately reduced with H. convergens.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1