Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Entomology and Plant Pathology

Major Professor

Jerome F. Grant

Committee Members

Paris L. Lambdin, Frank A. Hale, James R. Rhea


Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, is commonly applied on eastern hemlock to reduce populations of Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). A large number of other herbivorous and transient insects also are associated with eastern hemlock. These herbivorous insects may acquire imidacloprid through feeding on treated plants. Predatory insects may acquire imidacloprid when they feed on insecticide-contaminated prey. To investigate this phenomenon, a study was conducted at Indian Boundary Campground, Cherokee National Forest, 2005-2007. This study was conducted to: 1) ascertain the effect of imidacloprid used against HWA on the predatory guild associated with eastern hemlock, 2) determine seasonal abundance of the predatory guild on eastern hemlock, and 3) assess influence of vertical stratification on spiders and other predators.

During this study, 4,917 predators representing 75 families and 10 orders were collected. Spiders were the most dominant predator group, and the most abundant spider families were Mimetidae (1,038), Salticidae (736), Araneidae (733), Gnaphosidae (517), Philodromidae (330), Theridiidae (168), Tetragnathidae (161) and Thomisidae (142). The most abundant insect predator families were Vespidae (132), Ichneumonidae (50), Braconidae (31), Pentatomidae (25), Reduviidae (24), Coccinellidae (15), and Elateridae (15). Predator densities were not significantly different between pesticide application times (Fall and Spring). In both years, predator densities in control treatments and horticultural oil treatments were significantly (p<0.05) greater than those in imidacloprid treatments. However, predator densities were not significantly (p<0.05) different among soil drench, soil injection, and tree injection treatments or between control and horticultural oil treatments. Predator densities were at least 1.5-3X greater in the imidacloprid-treated plots in 2007 than in 2006, possibly suggesting a rebound in predator densities 1-1½ years after treatment.

Predator densities were significantly (p<0.05) greater in the top and middle canopy than in the lower canopy. Imidacloprid concentration level declined progressively from the bottom stratum to the top stratum of the tree canopy. Highest levels were observed in the bottom stratum which shows that higher concentrations of imidacloprid lead to lower numbers of predators and lower concentrations of imidacloprid lead to higher numbers of predators.

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