Population growth and urbanization have increased the potential habitats, and consequently the abundance of Culex quinquefasciatus, the southern house mosquito, a vector of West Nile Virus in urban areas. Water quality is critical in larval habitat distribution and in providing microbial food resources for larvae. A mesocosm experiment was designed to demonstrate which specific components of water chemistry are conducive to larval Culex mosquitoes. Dose—response relationships between larval development and NO3, NH4, and PO4 concentrations in stream water were developed through this experiment to describe the isolated effects of each nutrient on pre-adult development. The emergence pattern of Culex mosquitoes was found to be strongly related to certain nutrients, and results showed that breeding sites with higher PO4 or NO3 concentrations had higher larval survival rates. High NO3 concentrations favor the development of male mosquitoes and suppress the development of female mosquitoes, but those adult females that do emerge develop faster in containers with high NO3 levels compared to the reference group. The addition of PO4 in the absence of nitrogen sources to the larval habitat slowed larval development, however, it took fewer days for larvae to reach the pupal stage in containers with combinations of NO3 and PO4 or NH4 and PO4 nutrients. Results from this study may bolster efforts to control WNV in urban landscapes by exploring water quality conditions of Culex larval habitats that produce adult mosquitoes.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2