Cyclopoid copepods have proved more effective for practical mosquito control than any other invertebrate predator of mosquito larvae. Their operational potential is enhanced by the fact that mass production is relatively easy and inexpensive. The exceptional potential of copepods for mosquito control was first realized about 25 years ago. Since then, laboratory experiments with copepods and mosquito larvae around the world have shown:
Only the larger copepod species (body length > 1.4 mm) are of practical use for mosquito control.
They kill mainly 1st instar mosquitoes. The most effective species have the capacity to kill more than 40 Aedes larvae/copepod/day.
They generally kill fewer Anopheles larvae and even fewer Culex larvae.
Most field testing of copepods has been in Aedes container-breeding habitats. Field tests have shown that:
The most effective copepod species maintain large populations in a container habitat for as long as there is water.
They typically reduce Aedes production by 99–100%.
They can cause local eradication of container-breeding Aedes mosquitoes if present in a high percentage of breeding sites.
Field surveys in Anopheles, floodwater Aedes, and Culex breeding habitats have shown that natural copepod populations can substantially reduce, or even eliminate, mosquito production. Field trials in temporary pools, marshes, and rice fields have demonstrated that introduction of the right copepod species to the right habitat at the right time can eliminate Anopheles or floodwater Aedes larvae. As a rule, copepods cannot eliminate Culex production by themselves, but they can reinforce and augment control by other methods.
The only large-scale operational use of copepods to date has been in Vietnam, which has achieved local eradication of Ae. aegypti in hundreds of villages. Conditions in Vietnam are particularly favorable because:
Many Ae. aegypti breeding sites are water storage containers that are conspicuous and easily treated.
Motivation to maintain copepods in containers for Ae. aegypti control is strong because of the high incidence of dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Copepod use is effectively managed by women's associations already experienced with neighborhood health services.
Copepods have the potential for local eradication of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus in many other countries besides Vietnam. Professional capacity for copepod management and social institutions for community participation to help with implementation and maintenance are the main factors limiting broader use of copepods for operational mosquito control at the present time.