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J Med Entomol. 1999 Nov;36(6):811-23.

Potential for aging female Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) by gas chromatographic analysis of cuticular hydrocarbons, including a field evaluation.

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Department of Entomology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst 01003, USA.


Gas chromatography with flame-ionization detection was used to measure the time-associated, quantitative changes in the cuticular hydrocarbons of female Aedes aegypti (L.). Cohorts of unstressed Ae. aegypti, Rockefeller strain, were reared and held at 3 constant temperatures (24, 28, and 30 degrees C). Five females from each cohort were taken at 33 degree-day (DD) intervals from 0 to 231 DD (using 17 degrees C as the threshold temperature). Quantitative changes over time of cuticular hydrocarbons associated with gas chromatographic peaks 1 and 5 were identified as having promise for age grading. The relative abundance of peak 1 (pentacosane) decreased linearly from 0 to 132 DD, whereas peak 5 (nonacosane) increased linearly over the same period. Suboptimal larval conditions (crowded and starved), which resulted in physiological stress (decreased size), had negligible effect on the relative abundance of pentacosane and nonacosane. Additionally, the rate of change in the relative abundance of pentacosane and nonacosane were the same for both a recently colonized Chachoengsao (Thailand) strain of Ae. aegypti compared with the long-colonized Rockefeller (Caribbean) strain over a 0-99 DD interval. Two linear regression models, one based on the relative abundance of pentacosane and the other on the logit transformation of these values, were developed for aging female Ae. aegypti. A blind study using laboratory-reared mosquitoes and a mark-release-recapture experiment using field mosquitoes validated these age-grading models and produced promising results for aging females up to 132 DD (19, 12, and 10 calendar days at 24, 28 and 30 degrees C, respectively). Therefore the regression models, based on the relative abundance of these 2 cuticular hydrocarbons, appeared to be a useful approach for age-grading Ae. aegypti up to at least 12 d of age regardless of environmental conditions (temperature and stress) and population history (origin and colonization time).

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