“A water bug found in the Philippines could be an effective biological control agent for dengue-carrying mosquitoes,” said in an interview by Dr. Pio Javier of the College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
Dr. Javier conducted a study entitled “Water bug Diplonychus rusticus: A promising predator for Aedes aegypti (Dengue mosquito),” to evaluate the possibility of using water bug in controlling the population of dengue-carrying mosquitoes in the Philippines.
According to Dr. Javier, the water bug was already proven effective against mosquito larvae in a study conducted in India. “But the water bug we are studying now is native and endemic in the Philippines. It is smaller compared to the Diplonychus indicus, the water bug studied in India.” The water bug species being studied by Dr. Javier is usually found in the rice fields and known as a voracious predator of aquatic insects including mosquitoes.
“The main advantage of the water bug compared to the other mosquito predators is its availability in many of the aquatic habitats, its tolerance to chlorination and its capability to reproduce easily,” said Dr. Javier.
Initial findings of the study revealed that water bug can consume 86-99 full grown mosquito larvae per day. “Upon introduction of mosquito larvae to the water bug in a water container, the predator immediately capture the larvae with its front legs in just a matter of seconds,” said Dr. Javier.
The water bug can be distributed in all mosquito habitats such as used tires, water containers, and other mosquito breeding sites. “It can also be used to compliment the OL mosquito trap developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). While the OL trap attracts female mosquitoes to lay their eggs, the water bug can feed on the hatched eggs. This prevents the occurrence of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.”
While the water bug shows potential to control the population of mosquitoes, “A more detailed study on its biology, ecology and feeding behavior is very important,” stressed Dr. Javier.
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