Responses of three species of mosquito larvae to the presence of predatory dragonfly and damselfly larvae

Derek Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Although predators have been extensively used in the biological control of mosquito larvae, their efficacy will be reduced if the larvae are able to detect and respond to their presence. This ability to detect and respond to the unseen presence of dragonfly or damselfly larvae was investigated for the larvae of three mosquito species (all Diptera: Culicidae) to see whether they either altered their rate of development or their feeding behaviour. The development of Culex quinquefasciatus Say and Culiseta longiareolata Macquart larvae was not affected by exudates from either predator, but Culex sinaiticus Kirkpatrick developed significantly slower when reared in the presence of a caged dragonfly larva and produced adults that were significantly smaller, indicating that they probably reduced feeding activity to make themselves less detectable to the predator. This only occurred when the dragonflies were fed in situ (in the presence of the mosquito larva) and not when removed for feeding, so that although this removed predator kairomones, other cues such as vibrations caused by movement of the predator may also be involved. In addition, the mosquito larvae responded to dragonfly larvae, but not to damselfly larvae. The depth of the water in which the mosquito larvae were reared had no effect on their response to the dragonfly. All three mosquito species significantly increased surface filter-feeding, when a predator was present in the water (compared with controls where no predator was present), at the expense of bottom scraping. In Cx. sinaiticus (but not the other two species), surface filter-feeding was greater when a dragonfly was present, compared with a damselfly. In the experimental conditions of one predator per 250 ml water, all three mosquito species were thus able to detect dragonfly and damselfly larvae (and distinguish between the two), but their response varied among species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Crocothemis erythraea
  • Culex quinquefasciatus
  • Culex sinaiticus
  • Culicidae
  • Culiseta longiareolata
  • Diptera
  • Feeding behaviour
  • Ischnura evansi
  • Larval development
  • Predator avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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