Mosquitoes are one of the most globally important insect pests and vectors of human pathogens, and their populations may be facilitated or inhibited by anthropogenic environmental change. Invasive plant species are an important management concern and environmental modifier in many ecosystems; these plant invasions have the potential to exacerbate or diminish mosquito populations. The purpose of this study was to assess potential effects of a highly invasive plant, Lonicera maackii, on a common mosquito species Culex pipiens L., which is an important pathogen vector in the United States. Three microcosm assays were conducted to determine the responses of C. pipiens life history attributes of larval survivorship, growth, and pupation when subjected to leachate from two native plant leaves (Platanus occidentalis and Acer saccharum) and both the leaves and flowers of L. maackii. Only C. pipiens larvae exposed to L. maackii leachate pupated and emerged as adults. However, in all three assays there were statistically significant differences in survivorship and body size change among treatments, and in each assay the highest survivorship and maximum larval size was found in the L. maackii leachate treatments, suggesting positive effects on certain life history traits. This study is one of the first to demonstrate the potential facilitative effect of this invasive plant species on an insect vector and suggests that plant invasion could have positive feedbacks into mosquito population dynamics and, ultimately, human disease.
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Vol. 43 • No. 6