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Mother Nature to provide an environmentally friendly method for reducing mosquitoes
Date:7/21/2010

dator is detected. However, until recently, the chemical identity of these predator-released compounds was not known. By screening and comparing the chemicals released by N. maculata with those released by Anax imperator, another aquatic predator that does not elicit a chemical response by the mosquito, they were able to narrow down the potential chemicals that elicited the mosquito's behavioral response. Blaustein's group then conducted outdoor experiments on potential chemicals and determined that two of these N. maculata-released chemicals, n-tricosane and n-heneicosane, repelled these mosquitoes from laying eggs. The two compounds together had an additive effect.

Applying such synthetic compounds to mosquito breeding sites would not only result in much fewer mosquitoes in the immediate area but probably reduce mosquito populations overall. Increased searching by pregnant mosquitoes for a breeding site that is perceived as predator-free increases greatly the probability of dying before egg laying; mosquitoes, on average, incur a 20 percent probability of mortality per day. Moreover, mosquitoes, by concentrating their eggs in considerably fewer breeding sites perceived as predation-risk free, would increase competition among the mosquito larvae resulting in fewer and weaker emerging adults.

Prof. Blaustein explains that in the fight against mosquitoes, there are essentially three lines of defense. The first and preferred line of defense is to prevent emergence of adult mosquitoes from aquatic breeding sites. When this has not been done effectively, mosquito control workers resort to trying to kill the adults that have spread to residential areas. This is much more difficult, more expensive, and usually involves chemical pesticides of environmental and health concerns. When these two lines of defense fail, the burden falls on the public to prevent mosquitoes in search of a blood meal from biting them, such as staying indoors and
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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert

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