The Impact of Florivory on Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) Floral-visitor Behavior and Pollination
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Animals that eat flowers (florivores) can have significant effects on plant reproduction. Asclepias syriaca’s (common milkweed) flowers are consumed by the Tetraopes tetrophthalmus, the red milkweed beetle, during the summer months in North America. We assessed the impact T. tetrophthalmus had on A. syriaca’s pollination at the Millport Conservancy in Lititz, Pennsylvania during the summer of 2018. Our results suggest that the T. tetrophthalmus significantly reduces pollen deposition on and removal from A. syriaca flowers as a result of both florivory and reduced visitation by pollinators (interference competition). Therefore, our study suggests that T. tetrophthalmus may significantly and negatively influence A. syriaca reproduction. However, further sampling is needed next summer to determine if our results occur across multiple years. This project was supported by funding from F&M's Hackman Summer Scholars Program.
Poster presented at the 2018 Autumn Research Fair at Franklin and Marshall College