What Can Larval Ecology Tell Us About the Success of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicudae) Within the United States?

Donald A. Yee, University of Southern Mississippi


Aedes albopictus (Skuse) was introduced in the United States approximately 30 years ago, and since has become an important pest and vector of disease. This species uses small water-holding containers as sites for oviposition and larval development. Larvae can consume a wide range of detritus-based energy sources, including microorganisms, and as such the type and quantity of detritus that enters these systems have been studied for the effects on adult populations. This review examines the documented responses of Ae. albopictus to different larval environments within the United States, and some of its unique ecology that may lead to a better understanding of its spread and success. Field surveys generally find larvae in shaded containers with high amounts of organic detritus. Larvae have higher survival and population growth under high amounts of detritus and microorganisms, but they also can outcompete other species when nutrients are limiting. Allocation of time to feeding by larvae is greater and more focused compared with resident species. These latter two points also may explain differences in carbon and nitrogen composition (nutrient stoichiometry), which point to a lower need for nitrogen. Combined, these facts suggest that the Ae. albopictus is a species with a relatively wide niche that had been able to exploit container habitats in the United States better than resident species. After 30 yr of research, only a narrow range of detritus types and environmental conditions have been examined. Data on factors affecting the production of adults and its spread and apparent success are still needed.