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Keywords:

  • Biofuels;
  • mosquito production;
  • oviposition site selection

Abstract

The proposed expansion of biofuels production may cause unintended land-use changes and potentially alter ecosystem services. This study evaluated the impact of first-generation (corn) and second-generation (switchgrass and Miscanthus) biofuel crops on production and oviposition site selection by two vector mosquitoes, the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti and the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus. Larvae of the two species were reared at varying conspecific and heterospecific densities in senescent leaf infusions prepared from one of the three biofuel crops and their survival and development time to adulthood determined. The effects of the three leaf infusions on water chemistry and oviposition site selection by the two mosquito species were also determined. Ae. albopictus females deposited significantly fewer eggs in Miscanthus than in corn infusion while Ae. aegypti females deposited significantly fewer eggs in Miscanthus than in both corn and switchgrass infusion. Survival to adulthood for both mosquito species was significantly lower in corn than in switchgrass and Miscanthus infusions; was consistently lower at high- (0:40 and 20:20) than at low density treatments in both switchgrass and Miscanthus infusions; and significantly lower at high intraspecific density (40:0 and 0: 40) than at high interspecific density (20:20) in Miscanthus infusion. Development time to adulthood was positively related to larval density, but was not influenced by biofuel leaf treatment. Corn infusion had lower pH values and higher salinity, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), and temperature values than switchgrass and Miscanthus infusions. These findings demonstrate the potential for biofuel crops to modify the chemistry of aquatic habitats in ways that may influence mosquito production and thereby the risk of exposure to mosquito-borne diseases.