Marker dyes are often mixed with liquid insecticide formulations prior to field applications to accurately determine the characteristics and penetration of droplets into targeted habitats. We have been using FD&C Red 40 Granular DM food dye at the rate of 20 g/liter in liquid solutions of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) for area-wide larvicide applications against the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. The Bti and dye mix ratio has been recommended by pesticide manufacturers for testing under operational conditions, but no data exist on the effects of the dye itself on mosquito larvae. We tested the effects of the FD&C Red 40 food dye in laboratory bioassays against different strains of Ae. albopictus (New Jersey and Maryland) and Culex pipiens pipiens (Utah) at rates of 0.039 to 80.0 g/liter. We also conducted field application trials to measure dye concentrations up to 100 m downwind when mixed and applied according to manufacturer instructions. In laboratory bioassays, we found that mean survival in cups with dye were significantly different from the controls beginning at 10.0 g/liter for New Jersey Ae. albopictus and at 20.0 g/liter for Maryland Ae. albopictus and Utah Cx. p. pipiens. In field application trials, we recorded a maximum volume density of 1,152.8 nl/cm2 and calculated the maximum concentration of dye at 9.09 × 10−3 g/liter. Our results showed that although we detected greater effects of dye on Ae. albopictus in New Jersey experiments than Ae. albopictus in Maryland and Cx. p. pipiens from Utah, concentrations of the dye during operational applications were at least 1,100 times below concentrations that exhibited toxic effects for either species in the laboratory, suggesting that the dye will not interfere with accuracy of field bioassays. Our results conclusively demonstrate that the addition of the FD&C Red 40 marker dye does not alter the efficacy of the pesticide formulation by skewing results, but rather provides a valuable addition to accurately determine pesticide penetration and spectrum by discriminating between intended pesticide and other potential pollutants.
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