Adult mosquito predation and potential impact on the sterile insect technique

N. S. Bimbilé Somda, H. Maïga, W. Mamai, T. Bakhoum, T. Wallner, S. B. Poda, H. Yamada and J. Bouyer,  Scientific Reports,  12:2561. 2022.

The sterile insect technique is a promising environmentally friendly method for mosquito control. This technique involves releasing laboratory-produced sterile males into a target field site, and its effectiveness may be affected by the extent of adult mosquito predation. Sterile males undergo several treatments. Therefore, it is vital to understand which treatments are essential in minimizing risks to predation once released. The present study investigates the predation propensity of four mantis species (Phyllocrania paradoxa, Hymenopus coronatus, Blepharopsis mendica, Deroplatys desiccata) and two gecko species (Phelsuma standingi, P. laticauda) on adult Aedes aegypti, Ae. albopictus and Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes in a laboratory setting. First, any inherent predation preferences regarding mosquito species and sex were evaluated. Subsequently, the effects of chilling, marking, and irradiation, on predation rates were assessed. The selected predators effectively preyed on all mosquito species regardless of the treatment. Predation propensity varied over days for the same individuals and between predator individuals. Overall, there was no impact of laboratory treatments of sterile males on the relative risk of predation by the test predators, unless purposely exposed to double the required sterilizing irradiation dose. Further investigations on standardized predation trials may lead to additional quality control tools for irradiated mosquitoes.

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