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Survival and swimming behavior of insecticide-exposed larvae and pupae of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti

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      The yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti is essentially a container-inhabiting species that is closely associated with urban areas. This species is a vector of human pathogens, including dengue and yellow fever viruses, and its control is of paramount importance for disease prevention. Insecticide use against mosquito juvenile stages (i.e. larvae and pupae) is growing in importance, particularly due to the ever-growing problems of resistance to adult-targeted insecticides and human safety concerns regarding such use in human dwellings. However, insecticide effects on insects in general and mosquitoes in particular primarily focus on their lethal effects. Thus, sublethal effects of such compounds in mosquito juveniles may have important effects on their environmental prevalence. In this study, we assessed the survival and swimming behavior of A. aegypti 4 th instar larvae (L4) and pupae exposed to increasing concentrations of insecticides. We also assessed cell death in the neuromuscular system of juveniles.


      Third instar larvae of A. aegypti were exposed to different concentrations of azadirachtin, deltamethrin, imidacloprid and spinosad. Insect survival was assessed for 10 days. The distance swam, the resting time and the time spent in slow swimming were assessed in 4 th instar larvae (L4) and pupae. Muscular and nervous cells of L4 and pupae exposed to insecticides were marked with the TUNEL reaction. The results from the survival bioassays were subjected to survival analysis while the swimming behavioral data were subjected to analyses of covariance, complemented with a regression analysis.


      All insecticides exhibited concentration-dependent effects on survival of larvae and pupae of the yellow fever mosquito. The pyrethroid deltamethrin was the most toxic insecticide followed by spinosad, imidacloprid, and azadirachtin, which exhibited low potency against the juveniles. All insecticides except azadirachtin reduced L4 swimming speed and wriggling movements. A similar trend was also observed for swimming pupa, except for imidacloprid, which increased the swimming activity of pupa. Curiously, the insecticides did not affect cell damage in the neuromuscular system of larvae and pupae.


      Deltamethrin and spinosad were the main compounds to exhibit lethal effects, which allowed the control of A. aegypti larvae and pupae, and impair their swimming potentially compromising foraging and predation likelihood.

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            Author and article information

            [1 ]Departamento de Entomologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-900, Brazil
            [2 ]Departamento de Biologia Geral, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-900, Brazil
            Parasit Vectors
            Parasit Vectors
            Parasites & Vectors
            BioMed Central
            24 April 2014
            : 7
            : 195
            24761789 4022429 1756-3305-7-195 10.1186/1756-3305-7-195
            Copyright © 2014 Tomé et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.



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