Feeding preferences of larval container-dwelling mosquitoes are not well understood. Primary production is often absent in container systems and external inputs of animal and plant detritus supply the energy base of container food webs by supporting microorganism prey for mosquitoes. We quantified the feeding preferences of Aedes albopictus (Skuse), a non-native invasive mosquito, and Ochlerotatus triseriatus (Say), a native mosquito, when given a choice of animal and plant detritus. We tested for interpopulational (Illinois versus Florida) differences in feeding preferences, and quantified each species’ performance on these two detritus types. When given a choice, both species spent significantly more time feeding at an animal detritus patch. The Illinois populations of both species spent more time feeding at animal detritus patches than did the Florida populations, which spent more time feeding at leaf detritus than did Illinois populations. Both species reached a later instar and had higher survival when reared with animal versus leaf detritus. Ae. albopictus spent more time feeding at animal detritus and had higher survival when reared on either detritus type compared with Oc. triseriatus. Greater preference for and better performance exhibited by Ae. albopictus in high-quality food (animal detritus) may result in preemption of high quality food and may contribute to the superior competitive ability of Ae. albopictus relative to Oc. triseriatus.
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Vol. 44 • No. 2