Grace L. Litavsky, Stephanie Kaitlyn Murray, Joseph W. Reichel, Leen Sawas, Skylar M. Shannon


Presentation: 10:40-11:00, Kennedy Union 312



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As the world’s population and demand for energy continues to increase, we are also experiencing a rapid increase in renewable energy, such as solar power. Ohio is in the midst of a large solar boom, in which many solar fields are converted to something called “solar prairies.” The native, flowering vegetation in a solar prairie is meant to attract pollinators to boost the ecological value of the land. As solar prairies continue to surface in Ohio, we are still facing a large knowledge gap regarding (1) the effects of solar arrays on insects and (2) the best management practices for solar prairie vegetation. To help bridge this first knowledge gap, we are surveying insect communities at newly proposed solar sites before and after solar installation. Many of these proposed sites will be seeded as solar prairies during or following the installation process. Thus far, we have sampled the insect community at Marianist Environmental Education Center (MEEC) once before the installation of their solar array (September 2022), and three times after installation (June, July, and October 2023). We collected insects using pitfall traps (2022: n= 9; 2023: n= 12 per sampling date), pan traps (2022: n= 9; 2023: n= 12 per sampling date), and sweep nets (2022: n= 10; 2023: n= 12 per sampling date). Insects were sorted to order level identification (e.g., bees are of the order Hymenoptera) and we used analyses of variance (ANOVA) and generalized linear models (GLM) to test for differences in insect communities before and after solar installation. Insect abundance increased after installation, while insect diversity decreased. However, we will be following the progression of this solar prairie over time, and expect to see a rebound and increase in insect diversity, as the plant community grows and diversifies.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Chelse M. Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Critical Evaluation of Our Times; Scholarship; Practical Wisdom

Here comes the sun: A study of insect ecology during Ohio’s solar power boom