Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes use communal cues to manage population density at breeding sites.

Costa-da-Silva AL, et al.

COMMUNICATIONS BIOLOGY | (2024) 7:143 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-024-05830-5 | www.nature.com/commsbio 1 1234567890

Abstract: Where a female mosquito lays her eggs creates the conditions for reproductive success. Here, we identify a communal behavior among ovipositing female mosquitoes. When choosing equal breeding sites, gravid Aedes aegypti aggregate more often than expected. This aggregation occurs when water contact is restricted and does not require the presence of eggs. Instead, the aggregation is regulated by the number of females present at the breeding site. Using assays with both occupied and empty oviposition sites, we show that the Orco olfactory co-receptor and a carbon dioxide receptor, Gr3, detect the presence of mosquitoes. Orco mutants aggregate more often in empty sites, suggesting attractive olfactory cues influence females to associate with one another. Gr3 mutant females do not prefer either site, suggesting that the CO2 receptor is necessary to evaluate mosquito population density at breeding sites. Further, raising CO2 levels is sufficient to cause wild-type mosquitoes to avoid empty oviposition sites. Our results demonstrate that female mosquitoes can regulate their own population density at breeding sites using attractive and repellent communal cues.

Note: These results are based on a series of well done laboratory choice experiments that begin to tease apart the patterns of oviposition site choice and therefore the distribution of this mosquito in nature — information useful for surveillance and control.