Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata is an invasive herb that has been studied for its chemical allelopathy ability to hinder plant growth of its competitors and potential to inhibit entomopathogenic fungi. It has been suggested that these fungi which infect and kill insects and arthropods like blacklegged ticks Ixodes scapularis may be negatively impacted by garlic mustard presence. This study investigated the potential relationship between garlic mustard and blacklegged tick populations through two experiments. One experiment measured the effect of garlic mustard soil and leaf extract on waxworm survival where waxworms were used as a bioassay for the presence of fungi. The second experiment measured the abundance of blacklegged ticks found among plots of varying densities of garlic mustard and native herbaceous plant species. My results indicate that garlic mustard soil significantly increases waxworm survival (P < 0.0001) however there was no significant relationship between garlic mustard prevalence and tick abundance. The discrepancy in results between my lab and field studies lead me to conclude that waxworms are more susceptible to entomopathogenic fungi than ticks are and are therefore a poor model for blacklegged tick survival. These findings indicate that controlling garlic mustard populations will likely have no effect on tick populations and the spread of tick-borne diseases.
Shauffer, Nicole, "Investigating the Relationship Between Invasive Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata and Blacklegged Ticks Ixodes scapularis" (2017). Honors Theses and Student Projects. 85.