Effective management of avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) in Hawai'i's endemic honeycreepers (Drepanidinae) requires the identification and subsequent reduction or treatment of larval habitat for the mosquito vector, Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae). We conducted ground surveys, treehole surveys, and helicopter aerial surveys from 20012003 to identify all potential larval mosquito habitat within two 100+ ha mesic-dry forest study sites in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai'i; 'Ainahou Ranch and Mauna Loa Strip Road. At 'Ainahou Ranch, anthropogenic sites (43%) were more likely to contain mosquitoes than naturally occurring (8%) sites. Larvae of Cx. quinquefasciatus were predominately found in anthropogenic sites while Aedes albopictus larvae occurred less frequently in both anthropogenic sites and naturally-occurring sites. Additionally, moderate-size (???20-22,000 liters) anthropogenic potential larval habitat had >50% probability of mosquito presence compared to larger- and smaller-volume habitat (<50%). Less than 20% of trees surveyed at ' Ainahou Ranch had treeholes and few mosquito larvae were detected. Aerial surveys at 'Ainahou Ranch detected 56% (95% CI: 42-68%) of the potential larval habitat identified in ground surveys. At Mauna Loa Strip Road, Cx. quinquefasciatus larvae were only found in the rock holes of small intermittent stream drainages that made up 20% (5 of 25) of the total potential larval habitat. The volume of the potential larval habitat did not influence the probability of mosquito occurrence at Mauna Loa Strip Road. Our results suggest that Cx. quinquefasciatus abundance, and subsequently avian malaria, may be controlled by larval habitat reduction in the mesic-dry landscapes of Hawai'i where anthropogenic sources predominate.
Additional publication details
Larval habitat for the avian malaria vector culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae) in altered mid-elevation mesic-dry forests in Hawai'i