Effect of Alarm Chemicals and Predator Kairomones on the Behaviour of Two Species of Mosquito Larvae

Derek Roberts, Nargis Al-Alawi, Mai Al-Gharibi


Mosquito larvae have developed a variety of responses to reduce the risk of predation, but this requires them to be able to identify the different species of predators and respond accordingly. We investigated the behavioural response of two mosquito species to three chemical signals: kairomones from two predators, and also to alarm semiochemicals from killed mosquito larvae. Culex perexiguus mosquito larvae are primarily surface filter-feeders. In response to all three chemical signals, they significantly reduced feeding by the high-risk active bottom scraping of biofilms in favour of the less active (and so lower predator-detection risk) surface filter feeding.  Active escape swimming (instead of feeding) also increased for all three signals, but was much less for dragonfly nymph kairomones. Dragonflies are almost entirely bottom feeders and so are a much lower danger to surface feeding mosquitoes compared with damselfly nymphs, which feed at all depths. Culiseta longiareolata mosquito larvae normally have a high level of bottom-feeding. This was significantly reduced to all three chemical signals, but escape swimming only occurred for dragonfly kairomones (which are natural predators for the bottom-feeding larvae).


Culex perexiguus; Culiseta longiareolata; Mosquito larvae; Predator kairomones; Anti-predator defense.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/squjs.vol24iss1pp18-22


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