Strategies for effective mosquito control in constructed treatment wetlands

Robert L. Knight, William E. Walton, George F. O'Meara, William Reisen, Roland Wass

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Constructed wetlands hold considerable promise for providing water quality and wildlife habitat benefits. At the same time, constructed wetlands have been described as "mosquito-friendly habitats" and may raise potential conflicts with neighboring human populations. Conflicts arise because some design features, such as shallow water and emergent vegetation that are essential for optimizing water quality polishing, can result in undesirable increases in mosquito production. The attraction of large numbers of birds to constructed wetlands could also increase the risk of transmission of mosquito-borne viral infections to humans in the vicinity of the wetland. The potential for conflict is typically highest in arid regions where natural mosquito populations have limited abundance and are found near newly urbanizing areas. The creation of wildlife habitat is a significant goal of many treatment wetlands. Humans are also welcome in many treatment wetlands for recreational and educational activities. Risks of disease transmission to humans and livestock as well as the inconvenience of mosquitoes as pests must be offset by the economic savings of inexpensive water quality enhancement and the resulting reduction in pollution that also poses a risk to society's health and well-being. Ecological risks associated with the use of mosquito control chemicals must be offset by the increased habitat benefits provided by these constructed wetlands. The right balance between these competing goals can be recognized by the design that provides the greatest net environmental and societal benefit. This paper describes these tradeoffs between mosquito control and the constructed wetland technology and provides a synthesis of information that can be used to optimize the benefits of these wetland systems. Basic research is recommended to better define the cost-effectiveness of the various design and management options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-232
Number of pages22
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Dec 31 2003


  • Constructed wetlands
  • Mosquito abatement
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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