Many urban areas have engineered storm-water runoff control structures such as ditches and detention ponds. These often serve as excellent habitats for Culex pipiens and Culex restuans, the primary enzootic vectors of West Nile virus in the Midwest. We evaluated predation and control of these species by a fish species native to Wisconsin, the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). In the lab, a single minnow consumed an average of 74 Cx. pipiens larvae in a 24-h period. Minnow gender and age had minimal effect on predation of 2nd and 4th instars. In the field, fathead minnows (1,000 fish/ha) were introduced 1 time into 3 storm-water ditches with an additional 9 sites serving as controls. Sites where fish were introduced required no Bacillus sphaericus (VectoLex®) treatments during the 10-week experiment. The control sites required 19 VectoLex treatments during the same 10-week time span. Survival analysis revealed a statistically significant difference in time to first VectoLex treatment between fish sites and control sites. Our results suggest fathead minnows may provide a long-lasting and ecologically and economically feasible alternative to the use of VectoLex for Culex larval control.
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Vol. 25 • No. 3