, Volume 175, Issue 2, pp 481–492 | Cite as

Attracted to the enemy: Aedes aegypti prefers oviposition sites with predator-killed conspecifics

  • Daniel Albeny-Simões
  • Ebony G. Murrell
  • Simon L. Elliot
  • Mateus R. Andrade
  • Eraldo Lima
  • Steven A. Juliano
  • Evaldo F. Vilela
Behavioral ecology - Original research


Oviposition habitat choices of species with aquatic larvae are expected to be influenced by both offspring risk of mortality due to predation, and offspring growth potential. Aquatic predators may indirectly influence growth potential for prey by reducing prey density and, for filter-feeding prey, by increasing bacterial food for prey via added organic matter (feces, partially eaten victims), creating the potential for interactive effects on oviposition choices. We tested the hypothesis that the mosquito Aedes aegypti preferentially oviposits in habitats with predatory Toxorhynchites larvae because of indirect effects of predation on chemical cues indicating bacterial abundance. We predicted that A. aegypti would avoid oviposition in sites with Toxorhynchites, but prefer to oviposit where bacterial food for larvae is abundant, and that predation by Toxorhynchites would increase bacterial abundances. Gravid A. aegypti were offered paired oviposition sites representing choices among: predator presence; the act of predation; conspecific density; dead conspecific larvae; and bacterial activity. A. aegypti preferentially oviposited in sites with Toxorhynchites theobaldi predation, and with killed conspecific larvae, but failed to detect preferences for other treatments. The antibiotic tetracycline eliminated the strongest oviposition preference. Both predation by Toxorhynchites and killed larvae increased bacterial abundances, suggesting that oviposition attraction is cued by bacteria. Our results show the potential for indirect effects, like trophic cascades, to influence oviposition choices and community composition in aquatic systems. Our results suggest that predators like Toxorhynchites may be doubly beneficial as biocontrol agents because of the attraction of ovipositing mosquitoes to bacterial by-products of Toxorhynchites feeding.


Aquatic larvae Filter feeder Toxorhynchites Trophic cascade Tetracycline 



We thank Rubens Junior for aid in the laboratory. We thank Drs. Gustavo Ferreira Martins, Nildimar Honório, and Ricardo Idelfonso Campos for useful discussion, and two anonymous referees for comments on the manuscript. We are especially grateful to both the Entomology Graduate Program, Entomology Department, Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil and the School of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, USA, A fellowship from CNPq Brazil supported D. A. S.’s visit to S. A. J.’s laboratory. Additional funding was from NIAID grant R15 AI075306-01 to S. A. J.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Albeny-Simões
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ebony G. Murrell
    • 2
  • Simon L. Elliot
    • 1
  • Mateus R. Andrade
    • 1
  • Eraldo Lima
    • 1
  • Steven A. Juliano
    • 2
  • Evaldo F. Vilela
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Entomologia, PPG EntomologiaUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrasil
  2. 2.Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Section, School of Biological SciencesIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA
  3. 3.Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, PPG EcologiaUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrasil

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