Alec Wentz

  • Research Project

    Searching through Samples for Beneficial Beetles

    Faculty Mentor

    Dr. Ellen Yerger

    What is your research?

    Biological Control is a method of controlling insect pests using live species to reduce nuisance populations instead of pesticides. Our research is focused on a small beetle, Laricobius Nigrinus (LN) that is a natural predator of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA), which is depleting hemlock forests in PA. The population of LN is being monitored in collaboration between Pennsylvania DCNR and Dr. Yerger's lab in the Biology Department. Samples from hemlock forests were collected by constructing and deploying traps where the beetles were initially released. My job within the project is to look through the samples to find any LN beetles so we know where they are located and how abundant they are in each location.

    Why is it important?

    Laricobius Nigrinus is important for helping the hemlock forests survive, it provides biological control of the HWA. Unfortunately, it does not provide full control, but is instead one component that is helping to reduce the pest species. . Hemlock trees provide an ecosystem that supports other wildlife, some of these trees are huge, even 300 years old. A healthy forest supports many types of recreation, even for those who never go there, like flood and erosion control, climate buffering, habitat, water cleansing, and wildlife habitat.

    Alec Wentz Alec Wentz's Research