Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus (Skuse) impacts human outdoor activity because of its aggressive biting behavior, and as a major vector of mosquito-borne diseases, it is also of public health importance. Although most mosquito species exhibit crepuscular activity by primarily host seeking at dawn and dusk, Ae. albopictus has been traditionally characterized as a diurnal or day-biting mosquito. With the global expansion and increased involvement of Ae. albopictus in mosquito-borne diseases, it is imperative to elucidate the diel activity of this species, particularly in newly invaded areas.
Human sweep netting and carbon dioxide-baited rotator traps were used to evaluate the diel activity of Ae. albopictus in two study sites. Both trapping methods were used in New Jersey’s Mercer County, USA (temperate/urban), while only human sweep netting was used in Florida’s Volusia County, USA (subtropical/suburban). Human sweep netting was performed to determine adult mosquito activity at Sunrise, Solar Noon, Sunset, and Lunar Midnight. Because New Jersey is in a temperate area, diel activity was investigated during the early season (3-19 July), peak season (25 July-19 September), and late season (22 September- 22 October). Aedes albopictus showed the highest activity during peak and late seasons at Solar Noon (P < 0.05). At Sunrise and Sunset during the peak season, Ae. albopictus activity was similar. Lunar Midnight activity was significantly lower than Sunrise and Solar Noon (P < 0.05) but was similar to that of Sunset. In the late season, the highest activity was observed during Solar Noon while the least activity was observed during Sunrise and Lunar Midnight (P<0.05). Bottle rotator traps used in conjunction with the human sweep net technique exhibited similar results. Seasonal activity was not differentiated in Florida due to the consistent subtropical climate. The highest adult activity was observed at Sunrise using human sweep netting, but it was not significantly different from Solar Noon and Sunset. The lowest adult activity was observed at Lunar Midnight; however, it was not significantly different from Solar Noon and Sunset. These results provide evidence that the diel activity of Ae. albopictus, contrary to the common perception of its diurnal activity, is much more varied.
Involvement of Ae. albopictus in the transmission of debilitating mosquito-borne pathogens such as chikungunya, dengue, and Zika virus, coupled with its affinity to thrive in human peridomestic environments, substantiates that our findings have global implications in areas where Ae. albopictus populations established. It also highlights the importance of behavioral studies of vector species which will not only help mosquito control professionals plan the timing of their control efforts but also provides empirical evidence against conventional wisdoms that may unjustly persist within public health stewards.