A twelve-month survey for mosquito predators was conducted in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, which is located in the arid tropics. The survey revealed the presence of five predaceous insects but only Anisops sp. (backswimmers) and Diplonychus sp. were common. Predatorial capacity and factors influencing this capacity were then assessed for adult Anisops sp. and adult and nymph stages of Diplonychus sp. against Culex annulirostris mosquito immatures under laboratory conditions. Predatorial capacity bioassays showed that adult Diplonychus sp. preyed upon both larval and pupal stages of Cx. annulirostris quite successfully. Nymphs of Diplonychus sp. proved to be more successful with smaller prey immatures, and Anisops sp adults did not prey successfully on any prey pupae. Increasing the foraging area and introducing aquatic vegetation significantly reduced the predatorial capacity of Diplonychus sp. nymphs, while only vegetation and not foraging area had a significant effect on adult Diplonychus sp. predation capacity. Overall, adult Diplonychus sp. proved to be a more efficient predator than Anisops sp., and field trials are now recommended to further assess the potential of Diplonychus sp. as a biocontrol agent.
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