Understanding how interacting abiotic and biotic factors influence colonization rates into different habitat types is critical for both conserving and controlling species. For example, the rapid global spread of Asian tiger mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus, has reduced native species abundances and produced disease outbreaks. Fortunately, bacterial endospores of two Bacillus species (biospesticide) are highly lethal to Ae. albopictus larvae and have been commercially developed to reduce populations. Oviposition habitat selection is the first defense Ae. albopictus females possess against any control substance added to breeding sites, and considerable variation exists in their response to biopesticides. In a field experiment, I crossed the presence/absence of biopesticides, with two canopy (open, closed) and water (high, low) levels at 64 breeding sites, to examine if these interacted to influence oviposition site choice. Avoidance of biopesticide was most pronounced in closed canopy sites and those with low water levels, as all main effects and two-way interactions influenced oviposition. Oviposition habitat selection represents a possible mechanism of resistance to biopesticides and other methods used to kill mosquito larvae. Future experiments examining how larval density and mortality modify these results should allow for more effective control of this highly invasive species.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2