Mosquitoes are vectors for some of the most devastating diseases on the planet. Given the centrality of acoustic sensing in the precopulatory behavior of these vectors, the use of an exogenous acoustic stimulus offers the potential of interfering with the courtship behavior of these insects. Previous research on the acoustotactic response of mosquitoes has been conducted on tethered preparations using low-intensity sound stimuli. To quantify differences in acoustotactic responses between mosquitos of distinct sex and species, we examined the effects of incidental sound stimuli on the flight behavior of free-flying male vs. female Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes. The key variables were sound frequency (100–1000 Hz) and intensity (67–103 dB, measured at 12.5 cm from the source), and the acoustotactic response was measured in terms of the relative increase in flight speed in response to the stimulus. The data show, for the first time, significant sex- and species-specific differences in acoustotactic responses. A. aegypti exhibited a greater response to sound stimulus compared to An. gambiae, and the response also extended over a larger range of frequencies. Furthermore, the males of both species displayed a greater acoustotactic response than females, with An. gambiae females exhibiting minimal response to sound.
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