Oviposition of Aedes japonicus japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae) and associated native species in relation to season, temperature and land use in western Germany
Background Aedes japonicus japonicus, first detected in Europe in 2000 and considered established in Germany 10 years later, is of medical importance due to its opportunistic biting behaviour and its potential to transmit pathogenic viruses. Its seasonal phenology, temperature and land use preference related to oviposition in newly colonised regions remain unclear, especially in the context of co-occurring native mosquito species. Methods Focussing on regions in Germany known to be infested by Ae. japonicus japonicus, we installed ovitraps in different landscapes and their transition zones and recorded the oviposition activity of mosquitoes in relation to season, temperature and land use (arable land, forest, settlement) in two field seasons (May–August 2017, April–November 2018). Results Ae. japonicus japonicus eggs and larvae were encountered in 2017 from June to August and in 2018 from May to November, with a markedly high abundance from June to September in rural transition zones between forest and settlement, limited to water temperatures below 30 °C. Of the three native mosquito taxa using the ovitraps, the most frequent was Culex pipiens s.l., whose offspring was found in high numbers from June to August at water temperatures of up to 35 °C. The third recorded species, Anopheles plumbeus, rarely occurred in ovitraps positioned in settlements and on arable land, but was often associated with Ae. japonicus japonicus. The least frequent species, Aedes geniculatus, was mostly found in ovitraps located in the forest. Conclusions The transition zone between forest and settlement was demonstrated to be the preferred oviposition habitat of Ae. japonicus japonicus, where it was also the most frequent container-inhabiting mosquito species in this study. Compared to native taxa, Ae. japonicus japonicus showed an extended seasonal activity period, presumably due to tolerance of colder water temperatures. Higher water temperatures and arable land represent distribution barriers to this species. The frequently co-occurring native species An. plumbeus might be useful as an indicator for potentially suitable oviposition habitats of Ae. japonicus japonicus in hitherto uncolonised regions. The results contribute to a better understanding of mosquito ecology and provide a basis for more targeted monitoring, distribution modelling and risk management of mosquitoes.