The Influence of Larval Stage and Density on Oviposition Site-Selection Behavior of the Afrotropical Malaria Mosquito Anopheles coluzzii (Diptera: Culicidae)

Authors: Victor S Mwingira, Jeroen Spitzen, Leonard E G Mboera, José L Torres-Estrada, Willem Takken


In the selection of oviposition sites female mosquitoes use various cues to assess site quality to optimize survival of progeny. The presence of conspecific larvae influences this process. Interactive effects of oviposition site selection were studied in the malaria mosquito Anopheles coluzzii Coetzee & Wilkerson in dual- and no-choice assays, by exposing single gravid mosquitoes to oviposition cups containing 1) larvae of different developmental stages, 2) larvae-conditioned water (LCW), and 3) cups where visual cues of conspecific larvae were absent. Early-stage conspecific larvae had a positive effect on the oviposition response. By contrast, late stages of conspecific larvae had a negative effect. Oviposition choice was dependent on larval density. Moreover, in oviposition cups where larvae were hidden from view, late-stage larvae had a significant negative effect on oviposition suggesting the involvement of olfactory cues. LCW had no effect on oviposition response, indicating involvement of chemicals produced by larvae in vivo. It is concluded that the presence of larvae in a breeding site affects the oviposition response depending on the development stage of the larvae. These responses appear to be mediated by olfactory cues emitted by the larval habitat containing live larvae, resulting in the enhanced reproductive fitness of the females.
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