I investigated mate location and nectar foraging behaviour in the diurnal yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and the crepuscular house mosquito, Culex pipiens. High-speed video recordings revealed that incident light reflects off the wings of swarming Ae. aegypti males. In behavioural experiments, LED assemblies flashing light at the wingbeat frequency of females (665 Hz) mediated swarm and mate recognition at long range, whereas play-back of wingbeat sound (665 Hz) mediated mate recognition at short range. As predicted by the sensory drive theory, light flashes had no signal function for swarming Cx. pipiens. All five milkweed species/varieties tested attracted Cx. pipiens. Phenylacetaldehyde and benzaldehyde were the key floral semiochemicals emitted by showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa. Combining floral attractant of A. speciosa with those of four other plant species did not result in a super-flower blend that was more attractive to Ae. aegypti than the A. speciosa floral blend on its own.
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Thesis advisor: Gries, Gerhard
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