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Keywords:

  • Belostomatidae;
  • biological control;
  • Culex quinquefasciatus;
  • larva;
  • Notonectidae;
  • predation

Abstract

The influence of light and habitat structure on the predation of Culex quinquefasciatus larvae by the common heteropteran water bug, Diplonychus (=Sphaerodema) annulatus, D. rusticus and Anisops bouvieri was assessed in the laboratory. It was revealed that water bugs predate more in presence of light than in dark conditions. While A. bouvieri consumed more prey in structured conditions, D. annulatus and D. rusticus consumed more prey in open conditions. The selection of prey size as well as the respective numbers varied between predators and treatments significantly. Prey vulnerability (PV), an indicator of predatory efficiency, was highest for D. annulatus, moderate for D. rusticus and low for A. bouvieri. Prey consumption and PV values under different treatment conditions indicate that for belostomatid water bugs D. annulatus and D. rusticus, the order of prey consumption under different habitat and light/dark combinations is light open > dark open > light vegetated > dark vegetated. In the case of the backswimmer, A. bouvieri, the order of prey consumption appeared to be light structured > dark structured > light open > dark open. These findings were consistent with resource-partitioning by water bug species sharing the same guild. If the observed results are extended to natural settings the efficiency of these predators in controlling mosquito populations will vary with the structural complexity of habitats and the intensity of light.