Aquatic plant extracts and coverage mediate larval mosquito survivorship and development

Ross N. Cuthbert*, Gina Y.W. Vong, Simona Paolacci, Jaimie T.A. Dick, Amanda Callaghan, Neil E. Coughlan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental concerns and insecticide resistance threaten the sustained efficacy of mosquito control approaches which remain reliant on synthetic chemicals. Plant-based extracts may be an environmentally sustainable and effective alternative to contemporary mosquito control approaches; however, the efficacies of many possible plant-based extracts remain untested. The present study examines the effects of extracts from three floating and three submerged aquatic plants on larval mosquito Culex pipiens mortality, and development to pupal and adult stages. Physical impacts of floating plant species on mosquito mortality and development are also examined. Extracts of Lagarosiphon major and Lemna minuta were toxic, causing significantly increased mosquito mortality compared to plant-free controls. Effects of Azolla filiculoides, Crassula helmsii, Elodea canadensis and Lemna minor were statistically unclear, yet in some cases tended to increase pupal and larval numbers at high extract concentrations. Surface coverage of all floating Lemna species drove significant mosquito mortality through mechanical processes which likely impeded surface respiration by larval mosquitoes. In particular, high-density mats of L. minuta consistently caused total larval mortality. The present study thus suggests that targeted use of specific aquatic plants could assist in mosquito control protocols. However, as the chemical composition of botanic material will differ across spatial and temporal gradients, even for a singular species, localised assessment of the efficacy of plant-based extracts from within areas experiencing problematic mosquito control is required. The application of aquatic plants that are both toxic to larvae and are effective physical control agents presents an economic and effective method of mosquito control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104263
JournalBiological Control
Early online date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
RNC is funded through a Humboldt Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation . GYWV is supported through an award from the G. & M. Williams Research Fund . NEC and JTAD are supported by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency research grant 2015-NC-MS-4 . The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biological control
  • Culex pipiens
  • Disease vector ecology
  • Invasive alien species
  • Lethal effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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