Surplus Killing by Predatory Larvae of Corethrella appendiculata: Prepupal Timing and Site-Specific Attack on Mosquito Prey

  • L. P. Lounibos
  • S. Makhni
  • B. W. Alto
  • B. Kesavaraju


Surplus or ‘wasteful’ killing of uneaten prey has been documented in the fourth larval instar of various species of the mosquito genus Toxorhynchites that occur in treeholes and other phytotelmata. Here we document surplus killing by the predatory midge Corethrella appendiculata, which in Florida cohabits treeholes and artificial containers with larvae of Toxorhynchites rutilus. Provided with a surfeit of larval mosquito prey, surplus killing was observed only in the fourth instar of C. appendiculata, peaking in intensity in the final 24 h prior to pupation, as observed for Toxorhynchites spp. Attack sites identified from videotaped encounters with mosquito prey were divided among head, thorax, abdomen, and siphon. Consumed mosquito larvae (n = 70) were attacked primarily on the head (46%) or siphon (34%), but surplus-killed prey (n = 30) were attacked predominantly on the thorax (83%). Despite its independent evolution among different insect species in aquatic container habitats, the functional significance of prepupal surplus killing remains unclear.


Competition midge mosquito predation prepupae 



This research was supported in part by NIH grant AI-044793 to LPL and NSF doctoral dissertation improvement grants to BWA (DEB-0407689) and BK (DEB-0507015). We thank R. Escher and N. Nishimura for technical support, A. Borkent for sharing his knowledge of the Corethrellidae, and M. Griswold and S. Yanoviak for critical comments on a previous draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. P. Lounibos
    • 1
  • S. Makhni
    • 2
  • B. W. Alto
    • 1
    • 3
  • B. Kesavaraju
    • 4
  1. 1.Florida Medical Entomology LaboratoryUniversity of FloridaVero BeachUSA
  2. 2.Ft. PierceUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA

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