Ecology, behaviour and area-wide control of the floodwater mosquito Aedes sticticus, with potential of future integration of the sterile insect technique

Lundstrom, J. O. Schafer, M. L. Kittayapong, P.,  AREA-WIDE INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT: Development and Field Application,  2021.

The strategy of aerial control of the floodwater mosquito Aedes sticticus (Meigen) in the floodplains of River Dalalven, central Sweden, was developed to directly address specific larval breeding areas in temporary flooded wet meadows and swamps. Using the Bti-based larvicide VectoBac G (R), a very strong reduction of larval abundance is achieved, resulting in a massive decrease of blood-seeking females that could otherwise spread from the wetlands to feast on blood from humans and animals within 5 km or more from the larval biotopes. However, there is also a political demand to reduce the usage of the control agent through hypothetical alternatives, such as cattle grazing and mowing of the meadows, as well as hydrological changes of the River Dalalven. An evaluation of these measures showed that they are either insufficient or unrealistic in reducing floodwater mosquito abundance. Thus, we searched for other potential population suppression methods. Using the criteria of efficacy, environmental neutrality and compatibility within an integrated suppression approach, we conclude that Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and the Incompatibility Insect Technique (IIT) would qualify for a pilot-scale test of their feasibility for the integrated control of the floodwater mosquito Ae. sticticus. The SIT and the IIT are similar strategies involving the release of sterile males which mate with local fertile females and result in infertile eggs. Prerequisites for a sterile male strategy to control Ae. sticticus include: a laboratory colony of the species, a facility for mass-rearing of mosquitoes, the sterilisation of males, a transport strategy, a dispersal system, assay systems for several life stages, and a method capable of reducing the population of this superabundant species before commencing the sterile male release. One factor in favour of implementing the SIT or IIT against Ae. sticticus is that mating occurs in or near well-defined larval breeding areas with specific relation to flood events. Another factor in favour of the SIT or the IIT is the availability of existing methods to measure gender, larvae and egg abundance. Also, existing Bti-treatments can substantially lower the population size before sterile male release. Other prerequisites, like the successful colonization of Ae. sticticus will require more tests and adaptations of existing mosquito rearing protocols. A pilot study is suggested for an isolated study area, protected from reinvasion by Ae. sticticus-females and included in routine Bti-treatments.


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