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Brown University

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Australia: Natural and Cultural Ecology

Abstract

Dengue Fever is a major public health concern in tropical and subtropical climates worldwide, including the city of Cairns, Australia, which is currently suffering a severe outbreak. The most important vector of the Dengue virus is the predominantly urban mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.), which lays its eggs in both artificial and natural containers, including the ornamental bromeliad plants found in many household gardens. The ability of larvae to develop to adulthood inside bromeliads has become controversial, however, and bromeliad enthusiasts frequently refuse to have their plants treated with insecticide. The aim of this study was to determine the conditions under which bromeliads can provide a suitable breeding site for Ae. aegypti. A total of 110 larvae were implanted in seven bromeliads and four artificial container controls, and rates of larval mortality and successful adult emergence were compared. Adult mosquitoes emerged from four out of seven bromeliads, and although larval death rates were high overall, there was no significant difference in productivity or mortality between bromeliad and control populations. These results have important implications for the management of Ae. aegypti breeding sites, which is currently the most promising method for curtailing the spread of Dengue Fever.

Disciplines

Entomology | Immunology and Infectious Disease

 

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