Urban wetlands are being created in the UK as part of sustainable urban drainage strategies, to create wetland habitats lost during development, to provide a habitat for protected species, and to increase the public's access to ‘blue-space’ for the improvement of health and well-being. Sewage treatment reedbeds are also being incorporated into newly constructed wetlands to offer an alternative approach to dealing with sewage. This field study aims to provide the first UK evidence of how such newly constructed aquatic habitats are colonized by mosquitoes. A number of new aquatic habitats were surveyed for immature mosquitoes every fortnight over the first two years following wetland construction. The majority of mosquitoes collected were Culex sp. and were significantly associated with the sewage treatment reedbed system, particularly following storm events and sewage inflow. Other more natural aquatic habitats that were subject to cycles of drying and re-wetting contributed the majority of the remaining mosquitoes colonizing. Colonization of permanent habitats was slow, particularly where fluctuations in water levels inhibited emergent vegetation growth. It is recommended that during the planning process for newly constructed wetlands consideration is given on a case-by-case basis to the impact of mosquitoes, either as a cause of nuisance or as potential vectors. Although ornithophagic Culex dominated in this wetland, their potential role as enzootic West Nile virus vectors should not be overlooked.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2