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Keywords:

  • Aquatic habitats;
  • backswimmer;
  • mosquito;
  • n-heneicosane;
  • n-tricosane;
  • oviposition habitat selection;
  • predator-released kairomones;
  • risk of predation

Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 1129–1138

Abstract

Prey species commonly use predator-released kairomones (PRKs) to detect risk of predation, yet the chemical identity of PRKs remains elusive. Chemical identification of PRKs will facilitate the study of predator–prey interactions and the risk of predation, and when the prey are pests, will potentially provide environmentally friendly means of pest control. In temporary pools of the Mediterranean and Middle East, larvae of the mosquito Culiseta longiareolata Macquart are highly vulnerable to the common predatory backswimmer, Notonecta maculata Fabricius. We demonstrate that N. maculata releases two hydrocarbons, n-heneicosane and n-tricosane, which repel ovipositing females of C. longiareolata. In behavioural tests with environmentally relevant chemical concentrations in outdoor mesocosm experiments, the repellent effects of the two compounds were additive at the tested concentrations.