Evaluating the insect fauna on Missouri native wildflowers and selected cultivars
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Insects respond to a wide variety of plant characteristics in their search for plant provided resources. There is debate as to whether native cultivated plants should be used instead of or in addition to non-cultivated native plant types. The advantages and disadvantages of using native angiosperms or the cultivated plant varieties to attract/deter insect visitors are not clearly identified. Controversy exists among native plant supporters towards the capabilities of cultivated varieties to attract a particular type of insect fauna or a plethora of insect visitors. A comparison was made of six Missouri native and cultivated native wildflowers from the Asteraceae family with a goal of determining if insect fauna preferences for plant type exist, and whether insect fauna presence was associated with particular plant characteristics. A comparison of individual plant treatments revealed significant insect order preferences, and overall findings indicate a clear preference for non-cultivated native plant treatments across all insect orders except for Orthoptera, which had a significant preference for cultivated treatments. Insects were found in a 60-to-40 percent ratio on foliage and blooming plant regions respectively and equal numbers of insects were found in both diurnal and nocturnal collections. Specific plant characteristics were also considered to determine their role in insect attraction to flowering plants. A multiple regression showed linear and quadratic relationships between insect orders and specific plant characteristics. Continued work can investigate other factors contributing to the overall attractiveness of these and other native and cultivated native Missouri plants.
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