Interaction of a pesticide and larval competition on life history traits of Culex pipiens

Ephantus J. Muturi, Katie Costanzo, Banugopan Kesavaraju, Richard Lampman, Barry W. Alto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mosquito larval development occurs in aquatic habitats that are directly or indirectly exposed to chemical contaminants. Little is known about how interaction of these chemicals with other biotic and abiotic stressors impact mosquito populations. We used two levels of nutrient (low and high) and four larval densities (10, 20, 30, 40) to examine the effects of low concentrations of insecticide malathion, on Culex pipiens L. mosquitoes experiencing stress from larval competition. Addition of malathion at the high nutrient condition enhanced survival with increasing larval densities, but this effect was not observed at low nutrient condition. Males exposed to malathion were significantly larger than those from control treatments while the effect of malathion on size of females varied with larval density and the level of nutrients. Larval exposure to malathion and low nutrient resulted in significantly larger females with increases in larval densities compared with other treatments. The effect of malathion on male longevity varied with larval density and amount of nutrients. At higher densities, male longevity was consistently higher in low nutrient than in high nutrient conditions and addition of malathion in high nutrient treatment increased male longevity at the highest density. These effects are most likely attributable to release from competition among survivors after mortality from malathion and density-dependent effects. We conclude that biotic conditions of the larval habitat can alter the impact of low concentrations of chemical contaminants on mosquito populations in ways that may influence the pattern of disease transmission and the outcome of vector control efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-146
Number of pages6
JournalActa Tropica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Competition
  • Culex pipiens
  • Life history traits
  • Longevity
  • Pesticide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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