Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Biology (M.S.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Dr. Amy Russell

Second Advisor

Dr. James Dunn

Third Advisor

Dr. Maarten Vonhof

Academic Year



Michigan is ranked third in the U.S. for apple production. Michigan State University identified 78 pest insect species that cause damage to Michigan’s crop. Orchards using conventional and integrated pest management (IPM) spend thousands of dollars on pest control substances, which are hazardous to the environment and human health, and do not prevent 100% of crop damage and losses. The public’s increasing desire for “cleaner” foods has led to studies on how to incorporate more naturally occurring pest biocontrol agents. Bats have been recognized as pest insect biocontrol agents in numerous U.S. agroecosystems like corn, cotton, and pecans; however, little is understood about bats’ role in pest control in Michigan apple orchards. My research aims to understand the diet of Eptesicus fuscus (big brown bat) in southern Michigan apple orchards and identify if they are eating any of the pest insects that affect Michigan apple orchards. Based on published characterizations of the species’ diet, I hypothesized that E. fuscus are predominantly eating pest insects in the order Coleoptera, followed by small amounts of the orders Diptera, Hemiptera, and Lepidoptera.

I captured bats at 4 conventional and 4 organic farms throughout southern Michigan during the summer of 2019; in 2020, I collected guano samples from roost sites on 1 organic and 3 conventional orchards because of restrictions from SARS-CoV-19. I extracted DNA from the fecal samples and amplified arthropod DNA using the ANML primer pair. Samples that tested positive for arthropod DNA were sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq machine. Reads were processed using mothur and identified using BOLDigger. Twenty-one apple pest insects (Coleoptera: Conotrachelus anaglypticus, Ctenicera pyrrhos, Paria fragariae; Diptera: Chymomyza amoena, Drosophila suzukii; Hemiptera: Chlorotettix spp.; Lepidoptera: Acrobasis indigenella, Archips argyrospila, Archips grisea, Archips semiferanus, Argyrotaenia juglandana, Argyrotaenia quercifoliana, Argyrotaenia velutinana, Dichomeris ligulella, Mamestra brassicae, Pandemis lamprosana, Pandemis limitata, Peridroma saucia, Platynota idaeusalis, Spilonota ocellana; Trombidiformes: Tetranychus urticae) were identified as part of E. fuscus’ diet; however, only Drosophila suzukii, Mamestra brassicae, and Argyrotaenia velutinana are considered economically important pests.

Available for download on Saturday, December 14, 2024

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