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Do container size and predator presence affect Culex (Diptera: Culicidae) oviposition preferences?

Santos, José Junior dos, Kroth, Nádia, Breaux, Jennifer A., Albeny-Simões, Daniel
Revista Brasileira de entomologia 2018 v.62 no.1 pp. 40-45
Anisoptera (Odonata), Chaoborus, Culex, adults, buckets, environmental factors, field experimentation, gravid females, insects, larvae, oviposition, oviposition sites, predators, progeny, surface area
Organisms with complex life cycles typically do not exhibit parental care. Hence, the ability of adult females to choose quality oviposition sites is critical for offspring success. Gravid females of many insect taxa have the capability to detect environmental conditions in water-holding containers (e.g., resource level, presence of competitors or predators) and to choose the sites that are most suitable for offspring growth and development. Mosquitoes may also detect physical container characteristics related to water permanence such as surface area, volume, or container size, and some species such as those in the genus Culex have been shown to prefer larger containers. However, predators may also preferentially colonize larger containers; thus, ovipositing females may face decisions based on cues of site quality that balance the costs and benefits for offspring. We used a field experiment to evaluate the oviposition preferences of two Culex species in response to experimental container size and predator abundances within the containers. We found that both species avoided ovipositing in the largest containers, which have high abundances of Chaoborus sp. and dragonfly larvae (predators). However, the container size most commonly chosen for oviposition (15-L buckets) also had high mean abundance per liter of dragonfly larvae. These results suggest either prey naiveté or reduced vulnerability of these species to dragonflies compared to Chaoborus sp. Other potential mechanisms for the observed patterns are discussed.