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The effect of pond dyes on oviposition and survival in wild UK Culex mosquitoes

Ortiz-Perea, N., Gander, R., Abbey, O. and Callaghan, A. (2018) The effect of pond dyes on oviposition and survival in wild UK Culex mosquitoes. PLoS ONE, 13 (3). e0193847. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193847


British Culex pipiens complex [Culex pipiens sensu lato) mosquito distribution, abundance, and potential for disease transmission are intimately linked to their environment. Pond and lake dyes that block light to restrict algal photosynthesis are a relatively new product assumed to be an environmentally friendly since they are based on food dyes. Their use in urban garden ponds raises questions linked to mosquito oviposition, since coloured water can be an attractant. Culex (mostly pipiens) is commonly found in UK gardens and is a potential vector of viruses including the West Nile Virus (WNV). Any factors that significantly change the distribution and population of Cx pipiens could impact future risks of disease transmission. A gravid trap was used to catch female Cx pipiens mosquitoes for use in oviposition choice tests in laboratory and semi-field conditions. Two types of pond dye, blue and shadow (which looks slightly red), were tested for their impact on oviposition and survival of wild caught Cx pipiens. There were no significant differences in the number of egg batches laid when gravid mosquitoes were given a choice between either blue dye and clear water or shadow dye and clear water indicating that these dyes are not attractants. Larvae hatched from egg batches laid by wild-caught gravid females were used to measure survival to adulthood with or without dye, , in a habitat controlled to prevent further colonisation. The experiment was run twice, once in the summer and again in the autumn, whereas the dyes had no impact on emergence in the summer, there were highly significant reductions in emergence of adults in both dye treated habitats in the autumn. Containers with or without shadow dye were placed outside to colonise naturally and were sampled weekly for larvae and pupae over a 6 month period through summer and autumn. There was a significant negative effect of shadow dye on pupal abundance in a three week period over the summer, but otherwise there was no effect. It is likely that population abundance and food was a more powerful factor for mosquito survival than the dye.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:75936
Publisher:Public Library of Science


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