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Reassessment of the Role and Utility of Wind in Suppression of Mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) Host Finding: Stimulus Dilution Supported Over Flight Limitation

Eric J. Hoffmann, James R. Miller
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-40.5.607 607-614 First published online: 1 September 2003

Abstract

In a Central Michigan wetland setting, with abundant Aedes vexans (Meigen), Anopheles walkeri (Theobald), and Coquillettidea perturbans (Walker), electric fan-generated wind strongly reduced mosquito catches in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention light traps releasing carbon dioxide at 650 or 1,950 ml/min. This relationship was negatively logarithmic over the range of velocities tested (0 m/s to 3.7 m/s; 0–8.3 mph) and closely matched the theoretical dilution function predicted to occur with increasing wind flows over a constantly releasing point source of volatile chemical. Tripling the carbon dioxide release rate consistently doubled the number of mosquitoes caught across the range of wind velocities tested. Neither applied wind velocity nor carbon dioxide release rate was correlated with mosquito body mass across the range of wind velocities tested. Collectively, these data support the conceptual model that applied wind diminishes mosquito catches primarily by diluting attractants rather than by exceeding mosquito flight capability. Previously published estimates of maximum air speeds of which mosquitoes are capable may now need to be reassessed if they were based upon shut-down of catches in traps baited with chemical attractants. Addition of DEET vapor significantly reduced the number of mosquitoes caught relative to equivalently moving air without repellent. We recommend that fan-generated wind should be pursued as a practical means of protecting humans or pets from mosquitoes in the backyard setting.

  • Aedes vexans
  • Anopheles walkeri
  • Coquillettidae perturbans
  • carbon dioxide
  • orientation
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