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|Efficiency of two larval diets for mass-rearing of the mosquito Aedes aegypti
|Aedes aegypti is a major vector of arboviruses that may be controlled on an area-wide basis using the sterile insect technique (SIT). Larval diet is a major factor in mass-rearing for SIT programs. We compared dietary effects on immature development and adult fitness-related characteristics for an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) diet, developed for rearing Ae. albopictus, and a standardized laboratory rodent diet (LRD), under a 1410 h (light:dark) photoperiod ("light" treatment) or continuous darkness during larval rearing. Larval development was generally fastest in the IAEA diet, likely reflecting the high protein and lipid content of this diet. The proportion of larvae that survived to pupation or to adult emergence did not differ significantly between diets or light treatments. Insects from the LRD-dark treatment produced the highest proportion of male pupae (93% at 24 h after the beginning of pupation) whereas adult sex ratio from the IAEA diet tended to be more male-biased than that of the LRD diet. Adult longevity did not differ significantly with larval diet or light conditions, irrespective of sex. In other aspects the LRD diet generally performed best. Adult males from the LRD diet were significantly larger than those from the IAEA diet, irrespective of light treatment. Females from the LRD diet had ~25% higher fecundity and ~8% higher egg fertility compared to those from the IAEA diet. Adult flight ability did not differ between larval diets, and males had a similar number of copulations with wild females, irrespective of larval diet. The LRD diet had lower protein and fat content but a higher carbohydrate and energetic content than the IAEA diet. We conclude that the LRD diet is a low-cost standardized diet that is likely to be suitable for mass-rearing of Ae. aegypti for area-wide SIT-based vector control.
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