Density-dependent processes such as larval competition may be important regulatory factors among some mosquito species. The application of pesticides used for control may alter these density-dependent interactions with consequences for the number of survivors and associated sublethal and chronic effects on these individuals. We examined how intraspecific competition among larvae and low concentrations of malathion alter Aedes aegypti L. and Aedes albopictus Skuse adult life history traits and competence for arboviruses using Sindbis virus as a model system. Larvae were reared at densities of 150 and 300 larvae per container and in the absence or presence of 0.04 parts per million of malathion, before surviving females were exposed to an infectious blood meal containing 105 plaque-forming units/ml Sindbis virus. For both species, competition and the presence of malathion reduced survival to adulthood. The presence of malathion eliminated the negative effects of competition that resulted in lengthened development time and smaller-sized adults. For Ae. aegypti, but not Ae. albopictus, high competition conditions and the presence of malathion independently and not interactively led to an increase in virus dissemination from the midgut. Our results suggest that larval competition and chemical contaminants may influence disease transmission directly by altering adult mosquito fitness and indirectly by altering vector interactions with arboviruses.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2