Experience- and age-mediated oviposition behaviour in the yellow fever mosquito Stegomyia aegypti (=Aedes aegypti)

N. W. Ruktanonchai, L. P. Lounibos, D. L. Smith, S. A. Allan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In repeated behaviours such as those of feeding and reproduction, past experiences can inform future behaviour. By altering their behaviour in response to environmental stimuli, insects in highly variable landscapes can tailor their behaviour to their particular environment. In particular, female mosquitoes may benefit from plasticity in their choice of egg-laying site as these sites are often temporally variable and clustered. The opportunity to adapt egg-laying behaviour to past experience also exists for mosquito populations as females typically lay eggs multiple times throughout their lives. Whether experience and age affect egg-laying (or oviposition) behaviour in the mosquito Stegomyia aegypti (=Aedes aegypti) (Diptera: Culicidae) was assessed using a wind tunnel. Initially, gravid mosquitoes were provided with a cup containing either repellent or well water. After ovipositing in these cups, the mosquitoes were blood-fed and introduced into a wind tunnel. In this wind tunnel, an oviposition cup containing repellent was placed in the immediate vicinity of the gravid mosquitoes. A cup containing well water was placed at the opposite end of the tunnel so that if the females flew across the chamber, they encountered the well water cup, in which they readily laid eggs. Mosquitoes previously exposed to repellent cups became significantly more likely to later lay eggs in repellent cups, suggesting that previous experience with suboptimal oviposition sites informs mosquitoes of the characteristics of nearby oviposition sites. These results provide further evidence that mosquitoes modify behaviour in response to environmental information and are demonstrated in a vector species in which behavioural plasticity may be ecologically and epidemiologically meaningful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-262
Number of pages8
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Keywords

  • Aedes aegypti
  • Behavioural plasticity
  • Mosquito behaviour
  • Oviposition
  • Stegomyia aegypti

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science

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