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J Chem Ecol. 2002 Apr;28(4):797-806.

Chemicals of predatory mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) influence selection of oviposition site by Culex mosquitoes.

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Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Asheville, 28804, USA.


Ovipositing insects may avoid aquatic sites where there is high predation risk to their offspring, but the proximate mechanisms that mediate avoidance behavior are poorly resolved. We conducted an experiment to determine whether mosquitoes would reduce oviposition rates in pools containing chemicals of the mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), a voracious predator that is widely employed to control mosquitoes. Experimental treatments consisted of outdoor pools that contained known concentrations of fish chemicals (low, medium, or high) or no fish chemicals (control). The pools were arranged in a randomized block design, and the number of mosquito larvae in each pool served as the response variable to estimate relative oviposition rate. Members of the Culex pipiens complex were the main colonizers of the pools. The mean number of larvae per pool differed among treatments (P = 0.026) and was about three times greater in control pools compared with those receiving medium and high concentrations of fish chemicals. Pairwise comparisons indicate that only medium and high treatments differed significantly from controls, suggesting that a threshold concentration exists below which mosquitoes cannot reliably detect predators. Our data suggest that the effectiveness of Gambusia affinis in controlling mosquitoes may be compromised if adult mosquitoes respond to fish stocking by shifting to nearby breeding sites that lack fish. We discuss issues conceming the use of Gambusia in biological control programs within the context of these new findings.

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