Growth and survival of invasive Aedes albopictus larvae on Diospyros virginiana leaves.
Studies on the interactions of exotic species with their invaded environment are imperative in understanding their invasion biology. Larvae of container mosquitoes such as the invasive Aedes albopictus (Skuse) feed on microorganisms that subsist on allochthonous inputs like leaves. Ae. albopictus are vectors for many diseases including West Nile virus and are rapidly expanding their distribution in the United States. We tested the larval performance of Ae. albopictus at different larval densities in maple, oak, American elm, and persimmon. Survival was significantly lower and days to pupation were significantly higher with persimmon leaves compared with all others. In a follow-up experiment, we compared the performance of Ae. albopictus in different amounts of oak and persimmon and different ratios of persimmon + oak. The linear model for the growth rate (defined by larval head width) showed a positive slope as the amount of oak leaves increased in oak treatment, but there was no significant slope for persimmon. In the persimmon+oak combination, as the ratio of persimmon to oak increased, the growth rates of the larvae decreased. Lack of a significant slope for survival rate in combination with the results from the growth rate indicated that persimmon was a poor nutritional resource for Ae. albopictus.