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Distribution and habitats of mosquito larvae in the Kingdom of Tonga

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Mosquitoes are a significant pest and human health issue in the Kingdom of Tonga. The occurrence of species and habitats used by mosquito larvae were investigated to determine the potential for control through larval habitat management. Forty-two sites, including 22 villages and 20 farm plantations on the six islands of Tongatapu, Pangaimotu, Vava'u, Pangaimotu (Vava'u group), ‘Utungake and Nuku, were surveyed in April 2006. A total of eight mosquito species were collected: Aedes aegypti (Linnaeus), Ae. horrescens (Edwards), Ae. nocturnus (Theobold), Ae. tongae (Edwards), Culex albinervis (Edwards), Cx. annulirostris (Skuse), Cx. quinquefasciatus (Say) and Cx. sitiens (Wiedemann). Several species were widespread, particularly Ae. aegypti and Ae. nocturnus on the main island of Tongatapu, whereas Ae. aegypti dominated sites on islands of the Vava’u group. Comparative sampling of 17 village and 17 rural sites showed that larval habitat was more abundant in towns than in rural areas. Larvae were found in a wide range of habitats but were particularly abundant in artificial water bodies (e.g. disused concrete water tanks, 44-gallon drums and used car tyres). In rural sites, habitats were generally sparse except in rain-filled branch stems of giant taro plants. Mosquito populations in artificial habitats could be markedly reduced by seeding disused water tanks with aquatic predators already present in Tonga, using mesh-net covers over 44-gallon drums, and drilling holes in used car tyres.
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Keywords: Aedes aegypti; Tonga; artificial habitat; larva; mosquito

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand 2: Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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