Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #305511

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

item RUKTANONCHAI, N - University Of Florida
item LOUNIBOS, L - University Of Florida
item SMITH, D - Hopkins School Of Public Health
item Allan, Sandra - Sandy

Submitted to: Medical and Veterinary Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/17/2015
Publication Date: 5/15/2015
Citation: Ruktanonchai, N., Lounibos, L.P., Smith, D.L., Allan, S.A. 2015. Experience- and egg-mediated oviposition behaviour in the yellow fever mosquito Stegomyia aegypti (=Aedes aegypti). Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 29(3):255-262.

Interpretive Summary: In North America, Aedes aegypti is important as a nuisance mosquito as well as potential vector of dengue and chikungunya viruses. This container breeding mosquito is closely associated with humans and dwellings and the large number and small size of containers around dwellings greatly confounds control efforts. Additionally, this species deposits eggs over a number of different containers that may vary in suitability and acceptability. In this study conducted at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary entomology, scientists examined the choices of ovipositing mosquitoes exposed to repellent oviposition sites. These results further our understanding of potential for expansion of mosquito populations into areas previously considered unsuitable.

Technical Abstract: Animals may adapt foraging behavior in variable environments using environmental information. For repeated behaviors such as feeding or reproduction, past experiences can provide this information to guide future decision-making. By changing behavior to be more efficient in an animal’s specific environment, individuals can increase fitness and reproductive success. Other factors, such as age, may also influence the resources an animal utilizes. In particular, mosquitoes may experience heterogeneous landscapes and exhibit behavioral plasticity, as aquatic habitats often vary over time and are often clustered, making the local landscape potentially differ between mosquitoes. Further, there is an opportunity to use information to inform future behavior, as female mosquitoes typically lay eggs multiple times throughout their lives. We assessed whether environmental information and age affect oviposition behavior in the mosquito Aedes aegypti using a wind tunnel trial. In this wind tunnel, mosquitoes encountered an oviposition cup containing repellent, and if passed up, these mosquitoes later encountered a cup with pure water, in which they readily laid eggs. Mosquitoes previously exposed to cups containing repellent become significantly more likely to lay eggs in repellent cups in the wind tunnel. Therefore, previous experience with an unattractive cup potentially informs mosquitoes of the quality of aquatic habitats available in the surrounding landscape. These results further provide evidence that animals may modify behavior in response to various sources of information, using an animal for which behavioral plasticity may be ecologically and epidemiologically significant.