Sink trap: duckweed and dye attractant reduce mosquito populations

Ross N. Cuthbert*, Neil E. Coughlan, Jaimie T.A. Dick, Amanda Callaghan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Duckweeds, such as Lemna minor Linnaeus (Alismatales: Lemnaceae), are common in aquatic habitats and have been suggested to reduce larval mosquito survivorship via mechanical and chemical effects. Furthermore, pond dyes are used increasingly in aquatic habitats to enhance their aesthetics, although they have been shown to attract mosquito oviposition. The present study examined the coupled effects of L. minor and black pond dye on the oviposition selectivity of Culex pipiens Linnaeus (Diptera: Culicidae) mosquitoes in a series of laboratory choice tests. Subsequently, using outdoor mesocosms, the combined influence of duckweed and pond dye on mosquito abundances in aquatic habitats was quantified. Mosquitoes were strongly attracted to duckweed, and oviposited significantly greater numbers of egg rafts in duckweed-treated water compared with untreated controls, even when the duckweed was ground. The presence of pond dye interacted with the duckweed and further enhanced positive selectivity towards duckweed-treated water. The presence of duckweed caused significant and sustained reductions in larval mosquito numbers, whereas the relative effects of dye were not evident. The use of floating aquatic plants such as duckweed, combined with dye, may help reduce mosquito populations via the establishment of population sinks, characterized by high rates of oviposition coupled with high levels of larval mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Issue number1
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded through a Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland studentship. NEC and JTAD are supported by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency research grant 2015‐NC‐MS‐4. Matthew Mullins and Josh Spuyman are thanked for their assistance with the data collection. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Royal Entomological Society

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


  • Biological control
  • Culex
  • disease vector
  • floating weed
  • Lemna
  • lethal effects
  • oviposition
  • pond
  • population sink

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science


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