New larval control strategies for integrated vector management of Aedes aegypti are in high demand, including the use of biological control agents. Exposure of Aedes aegypti to parasites, starvation, and overcrowded conditions during larval development reduces the probability of survival to eclosion, can directly affect fitness parameters such as adult size and fecundity, and can affect the size, provisioning, and viability of eggs produced by females. We compared these parameters after exposing larvae to 1) abundant food at low larval densities, 2) food deprivation and high larval density, and 2) infection with the endoparasite Plagiorchis elegans, an entomopathogenic digenean trematode. Female mosquitoes that eclosed from larval conditions of starvation and overcrowding were smaller and laid fewer and smaller eggs than controls. The proportion of females to complete an oviposition cycle was reduced in the P. elegans-infected treatment group. Parasite load was negatively correlated with wing length and egg size. Infection of Ae. aegypti with P. elegans has sublethal effects and may reduce population-level reproductive output, but one-time low-density P. elegans exposure does not have sufficient effect on Ae. aegypti fitness parameters to be considered a viable biocontrol option.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1