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Keywords:

  • Aedes aegypti;
  • mosquitoes;
  • natal induction;
  • oviposition;
  • repellents

The effects of natal experience on the oviposition behaviour of adult female mosquitoes were investigated in the laboratory using Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae). ‘Treatment’ mosquitoes were exposed to a dilute repellent (inducing stimulus) in their breeding water (aquatic stages) and/or in the air (adults) during various combinations of life stages [larval only (L regime); larval and pupal (LP regime); larval, pupal and emergent adult (LPE regime); larval, pupal, emergent adult and adult (LPEA regime); pupal, emergent adult and adult (PEA regime); adult only (A regime)]. ‘Control’ mosquitoes were raised in an identical manner, but were not exposed to the inducing stimulus. The oviposition behaviour of treatment and control females was assessed in an oviposition assay that presented a choice of water with or without the inducing stimulus. Of the 435 mosquitoes tested in the experiment, 176 were non-distributors (i.e. laid all of their eggs in only one of the choices). Treatment females (distributors plus non-distributors) reared in the presence of the inducing stimulus throughout their lives (LPEA regime) showed a significant preference for the oviposition option containing the inducing stimulus (24/36 females) compared with corresponding controls (5/39 females). Distributors reared under the LPEA and PEA regimes also showed this preference (6/6 treatment vs. 2/29 control females, and 13/18 treatment vs. 7/23 control females, respectively). Females that had been exposed to the inducing stimulus as either immatures or adults only showed no preference for, and some showed an aversion to, the treatment oviposition option. This is interpreted as evidence for a natal habitat preference induction (NHPI) in this species, albeit one that requires extensive reinforcement in the adult stage. This adult experience-reinforced NHPI (AER-NHPI) is discussed in terms of its adaptive significance for container breeders, the possible timing mechanism and sensory basis of induction and potential practical consequences.