Polarized light and oviposition site selection in the yellow fever mosquito: No evidence for positive polarotaxis in Aedes aegypti

Balázs Bernáth, Gábor Horváth, József Gál, Gábor Fekete, Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aquatic insects and insects associated with water use horizontally polarized light (i.e., positive polarotaxis) to detect potential aquatic or moist oviposition sites. Mosquitoes lay their eggs onto wet substrata, in water, water-filled tree/rock holes, or man-made small containers/bottles/old tyres containing water. Until now it has remained unknown whether mosquitoes are polarotactic or not. The knowledge how mosquitoes locate water would be important to develop new control measures against them. Thus, we studied in dual-choice laboratory experiments the role of horizontally polarized light in the selection of oviposition sites in blood-fed, gravid females of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. On the basis of our results we propose that Ae. aegypti is not polarotactic. Thus the yellow fever mosquito is the first known water-associated insect species that does not detect water by means of the horizontally polarized water-reflected light. This can be explained by the reflection-polarization characteristics of small-volume water-filled cavities/containers preferred by Ae. aegypti as oviposition sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449-1455
Number of pages7
JournalVision Research
Volume48
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The equipment donation received by G. Horváth and the research fellowship obtained by B. Bernáth from the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are greatly appreciated. This work was also supported by Grant OTKA K-6846 awarded from the Hungarian Science Foundation to G. Horváth. We are grateful to Judit Kincses and Gyöngyi Nyíri for their assistance with the mosquito cultures and Dr. Béla Darvas (Department of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Analysis, Plant Protection Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest) for his valuable advice on mosquito breeding and maintenance. We thank Prof. Harold Townson (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, LSTM, Liverpool, UK) for allowing J. Gál to carry out preliminary tests with mosquitoes in his research unit, supported by funds from Jacobs University Bremen to V.B. Meyer-Rochow, and we further acknowledge the help rendered towards this project by Ken Sherlock (LSTM) and Alexander Egyir-Yawson (LSTM). Finally thanks are to two anonymous referees for their constructive comments on the manuscript.

Keywords

  • Aedes aegypti
  • Egg-laying
  • Oviposition site selection
  • Polarization pattern
  • Polarization vision
  • Polarized light
  • Water detection
  • Yellow fever mosquito

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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