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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Mosquito and Fly Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #187143


item Tomberlin, Jeffery
item Rains, Glen
item Allan, Sandra - Sandy
item Sanford, Michelle
item Lewis, Wallace

Submitted to: Naturwissenschaften
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/13/2006
Publication Date: 11/1/2006
Citation: Tomberlin, J.K., Rains, G.C., Allan, S.A., Sanford, M.R., Lewis, W.J. 2006. Associative learning of odor with food or blood-meal by culex quinquefasciatus say (diptera: culicidae). Naturwissenschaften. 93(11):551-556.

Interpretive Summary: The southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, is an important vectors of West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus in the United States. One of the poorly understood aspects of mosquito biology is the role that prior experience or learning plays in ability of a mosquito to survive in its natural environment. In this study, scientists at USDA's Center for Medical, Veterinary and Agricultural Entomology in Gainesville (Florida) were involved in an evaluation of the ability of Culex quinquefasciatus to learn in association with food or blood-meal sources. Both males and female mosquitoes learned to associate sugar and blood-feeding with vanilla or strawberry extracts. This information provides the basis for further examination of the parameters of learning in mosquitoes as a potential tools to enhance field-survival of laboratory–reared mosquitoes from sterile-insect or genetically-altered programs and for incorporation into control strategies.

Technical Abstract: Investigations into the associative learning capabilities of Culex quinquefasciatus Say were conducted by adapting methods commonly used in experiments involving Hymenoptera. Male and female mosquitoes were able to learn a conditioned stimulus (CS) that consisted of an odor not normally encountered in nature (synthetic strawberry or vanilla extracts) in association with an unconditioned stimulus (US) consisting of either sugar (males and females) or blood (females). Both sexes were able to learn a CS odor in association with a sugar meal and females were able to learn a CS odor in association with a blood meal. The implications this capability has for potential control methods in mosquitoes and the importance of appropriate associative learning experimental methodology are discussed.