Tires as Habitats for Mosquitoes: A Review of Studies Within the Eastern United States

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Biological Sciences


Discarded vehicle tires are a common habitat for a variety of container mosquito species. I reviewed the literature from the last 50 yr on mosquitoes collected within tires in the eastern United States with four objectives: to examine the historical and contemporary issues of tires as a habitat for mosquitoes, to identify tire-inhabiting species, to summarize findings from studies that focused on biotic and abiotic characteristics of tires, and to offer future directions to aid our understanding of tire-inhabiting mosquitoes. Thirty-two species have been documented, including seven invasives, with the most frequently encountered being Aedes triseriatus, Ae. albopictus, Ae. atropalpus, Culex restuans, Cx. pipiens, Cx. territans, Anopheles punctipennis, and Toxorhynchites rutilus. The proclivity of these species to occupy small containers is one possible explanation for their occurrence in tires. The native species Ae. triseriatus was abundant and the most often collected, particularly in central and northern regions, whereas the invasive Ae. albopictus was most abundant in the south. One half of the studies investigating aspects of the tire environment compared mosquito populations between sunlit and shaded tires, with the general finding that this factor alone led to dramatic differences in larval species composition and abundance patterns. Less frequently investigated factors, e.g., tire orientation, detritus, and proximity to humans, also were found to affect patterns of occupancy by mosquitoes. For the future, I suggest more surveys are needed in understudied areas, as well as quantitative experiments to determine habitat associations and community dynamics in tires, which are especially necessary to assist in understanding invasions. Discarded tires are important for studies of vector dynamics, because of their abundance near human populations and because they expand the habitat range of mosquitoes that vector pathogens.

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Journal of Medical Entomology





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