Does temperature affect the outcome of larval competition between Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus?
Discarded vehicle tire casings are an important artificial habitat for the developmental stages of numerous vector mosquitoes. Discarded vehicle tires degrade under ultraviolet light and leach numerous soluble metals (e.g., barium, cadmium, zinc) and organic substances (e.g., benzothiazole and its derivatives [BZTs], polyaromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]) that could affect mosquito larvae that inhabit the tire casing. This study examined the relationship between soluble zinc, a common marker of tire leachate, on mosquito densities in tire habitats in the field, and tested the effects of tire leachate on the survival and development of newly hatched Aedes albopictus and Aedes triseriatus larvae in a controlled laboratory dose-response experiment. In the field, zinc concentrations were as high as 7.26 mg/L in a single tire and averaged as high as 2.39 (SE ± 1.17) mg/L among tires at a single site. Aedes albopictus (37/42 tires, 81.1%) and A. triseriatus (23/42, 54.8%) were the most widespread mosquito species, co-occurred in over half (22/42, 52.4%) of all tires, and A. triseriatus was only collected without A. albopictus in one tire. Aedes triseriatus was more strongly negatively associated with zinc concentration than A. albopictus, and another common mosquito, C. pipiens, which was found in 17 tires. In the laboratory experiment, A. albopictus per capita rate of population change (λ') was over 1.0, indicating positive population growth, from 0-8.9 mg/L zinc concentration (0-10,000 mg/L tire leachate), but steeply declined to zero from 44.50-89.00 mg/L zinc (50,000-100,000 mg/L tire leachate). In contrast, A. triseriatus λ' declined at the lower concentration of 0.05 mg/L zinc (100 mg/L tire leachate), and was zero at 0.45, 8.90, 44.50, and 89.00 mg/L zinc (500, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 mg/L tire leachate). These results indicate that tire leachate can have severe negative effects on populations of container-utilizing mosquitoes at concentrations commonly found in the field. Superior tolerance to tire leachate of A. albopictus compared to A. triseriatus, and possibly other native mosquito species, may have facilitated the replacement of these native species as A. albopictus has invaded North America and other regions around the world.