Small-stature emergent macrophytes and crepuscular sprinkler disturbance reduce mosquito abundance in wetland mesocosms

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ABSTRACT

The impact of emergent macrophyte species and crepuscular sprinkler disturbance on mosquito abundance over a 2-year period was measured in wetland mesocosms. Mosquito oviposition and abundance of immature mosquitoes and aquatic invertebrates were monitored in monotypic plots of small-stature (height of mature stands <1.5 m) alkali bulrush (Schoenoplectus maritimus) and large-stature (height of mature stands > 2 m) California bulrush (Schoenoplectus californicus) without or with daily sprinkler showers to deter mosquito egg laying. Relative to wetlands without operational sprinklers, oviposition by culicine mosquitoes was reduced by > 99% and immature mosquito abundance was reduced by > 90% by crepuscular sprinkler applications. Mosquito abundance or distribution in wetlands did not differ between the two bulrush species subjected to the sprinkler treatment. Alkali bulrush wetlands without daily sprinkler treatments contained more egg rafts but significantly fewer mosquito larvae than did California bulrush wetlands. Predaceous damselfly naiads were 3–5 times more abundant in alkali bulrush than in California bulrush. Stem density, rate of spread, and autumnal mortality of alkali bulrush were higher than for California bulrush. Replacement of large emergent macrophytes by smaller species may enhance the efficacy of integrated mosquito management programs to reduce mosquito-transmitted disease cycles associated with multipurpose constructed wetlands used worldwide for water reclamation and habitat restoration.

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