Rapid habituation by mosquito larvae to predator kairomones

Derek Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Larvae of some species of mosquitoes have been shown to respond to water-borne kairomones from predators by reducing bottom-feeding and replacing it with surface filter-feeding, which uses less movement and is thus less likely to attract a predator. However, if no predator attack takes place, then it would be more efficient to use a risk allocation strategy of habituating their response depending on the predator and the overall risk. The larvae of Culiseta longiareolata Macquart live in temporary rain-filled pools, where they are exposed to a high level of predation. Within one hour, they responded to kairomones from dragonfly or damselfly nymphs, or to the fish Aphanius, by significantly reducing bottom-feeding activity. Continued exposure to the predator kairomones resulted in habituation of their response to damselflies, a slower habituation to fish, but no habituation to dragonflies even after 30 h. In contrast, the larvae of Culex quinquefasciatus Say normally live in highly polluted and thus anaerobic water, where the predation risk will be much lower. They also showed a significant reduction in bottom-feeding after 1 h of exposure to predator kairomones but had completely habituated this response within 6 h of continuous exposure. Some species of mosquito larvae can thus show a very rapid habituation to predator kairomones, while others only habituate slowly depending on the predator and overall predation risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-360
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Vector Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Culex quinquefasciatus
  • Culiseta longiareolata
  • filter feeding
  • habituation
  • mosquito larvae
  • predator kairomones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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