Predicted impact of an exotic generalist predator on monarch butterfly (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) populations: A quantitative risk assessment

R. L. Koch, R. C. Venette, W. D. Hutchison

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25 Scopus citations


The multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas), was recently identified as a potential hazard to monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.). A quantitative risk assessment for the potential impact of H. axyridis on D. plexippus in Minnesota corn and soybean fields was developed using risk analysis software. This assessment considered a potential worst-case scenario for the impact of H. axyridis on D. plexippus. Habitat-specific recruitment of D. plexippus eggs was determined empirically. Subsequently, simulated abundance of D. plexippus in each habitat was reduced by two classes of stage-specific mortality: predation by H. axyridis and causes other than H. axyridis. Predation was modeled as a function of D. plexippus exposure to H. axyridis, and predation rate of D. plexippus by H. axyridis. Exposure and subsequent risk varied considerably by habitat, with a low risk of H. axyridis adversely affecting D. plexippus populations developing in corn fields, but a moderate to high risk in soybean fields. Predicted rates of D. plexippus mortality attributable to H. axyridis were greater in soybean compared to corn fields, possibly due to the numerical response of H. axyridis to soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura. This study demonstrates that H. axyridis has the potential to have a strong adverse impact on D. plexippus populations. However, the likelihood of occurrence for this worst-case scenario remains uncertain. To evaluate the landscape-level risk of H. axyridis impacting D. plexippus, further data on recruitment of D. plexippus in other habitats and exposure estimates specific to additional habitats are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1193
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to G. Heimpel, D. Andow and K. Oberhauser for reviewing an earlier version of this manuscript. We thank E. Burkness, S. Burk-ness, P. O’Rourke, K. Bennett and T. Galvan for field assistance, and M. Abrahamson (Minnesota Department of Agriculture) for providing milkweed density data. This research was funded by the University of Minnesota Experiment Station and a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.


  • @RISK
  • Biological control
  • Danaus plexippus
  • Harmonia axyridis
  • Non-target effects
  • Risk assessment


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