Background: Microbial and insect-growth-regulator larvicides dominate current vector control programmes because they reduce larval abundance and are relatively environmentally benign. However, their short persistence makes them expensive, and environmental manipulation of larval habitat might be an alternative control measure. Aedes vigilax is a major vector species in northern Australia. A field experiment was implemented in Darwin, Australia, to test the hypotheses that (1) aerial microbial larvicide application effectively decreases Ae. vigilax larval presence, and therefore adult emergence, and (2) environmental manipulation is an effective alternative control measure. Generalised linear and mixed-effects modelling and information-theoretic comparisons were used to test these hypotheses. Results: It is shown that the current aerial larvicide application campaign is effective at suppressing the emergence of Ae. vigilax, whereas vegetation removal is not as effective in this context. In addition, the results indicate that current larval sampling procedures are inadequate for quantifying larval abundance or adult emergence. CONCLUSIONS: This field-based comparison has shown that the existing larviciding campaign is more effective than a simple environmental management strategy for mosquito control. It has also identified an important knowledge gap in the use of larval sampling to evaluate the effectiveness of vector control strategies.