Oviposition Preference and Offspring Performance in Container Breeding Mosquitoes
1. The preference–performance hypothesis (PPH) predicts that organisms lacking parental care should oviposit in habitats that optimise offspring performance. Preference–performance relationships were investigated for the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus Skuse) and the southern house mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus Say) (Diptera: Culicidae), two medically important container-breeding species, in response to an organic chemical blend mimicking decaying plant matter. Additionally, the effects of long-term laboratory colonisation of Cx. quinquefasciatus using wild and laboratory strains were evaluated.
2. Oviposition bioassays were conducted by releasing gravid mosquitoes into field enclosures with automobile tires containing low and high concentrations of the chemical blend, and water controls. The offspring were then reared in water collected from the tires in which they were deposited.
3. Aedes albopictus and wild Cx. quinquefasciatus laid more eggs in the chemical blend than water controls but did not differentiate between the low and high concentrations. Conversely, laboratory Cx. quinquefasciatus only preferred the high concentration to the low concentration. No statistical associations between oviposition preference and larval survival were found, as the chemical blend did not affect survivorship of either species.
4. The oviposition preference for the chemical blend over water controls suggests that both species oviposit in the best available resource environment, but further studies are needed before conclusions regarding preference–performance relationships can be drawn.
5. It was found that long-term laboratory colonisation affects the oviposition behaviour in Cx. quinquefasciatus, suggesting that behavioural studies on laboratory strains are not always applicable to wild populations.