A survival and reproduction trade-off is resolved in accordance with resource availability by virgin female mosquitoes

C. M. Stone, I. M. Hamilton, W. A. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first 2-4 days after an Anopheles gambiae female mosquito emerges are critical to her survival and reproductive success. Yet, the order of behavioural events (mating, sugar feeding, blood feeding) during this time has received little attention. We discovered that among female cohorts sampled from emergence, sugar feeding had a higher probability than blood feeding of occurring first, and mating rarely occurred before a meal was taken. The night after emergence, 48% of females fed on sugar in mesocosms, and 25% fed on human blood; in the absence of sugar, 49% of females fed on human blood. After 5 days, 39% of the sugar-supplied females had blood-fed and mated, and were fructose negative, whereas only 8% of the sugar-denied females had both blood-fed and mated by this time. The model that best explained the transitions suggests that females made use of two distinct behavioural pathways, the most common one being to sugar-feed, then mate, and then seek blood. Other females sought blood first, then mated, and forwent a sugar meal. Lipid levels were higher in females with access to sugar than in females without access to sugar, particularly for those in later gonotrophic stages, while glycogen levels in the sugar-supplied group were higher throughout. In single-night experiments with females having had access to sucrose since emergence, those given a blood meal 1 day before spending a night with males had higher insemination rates than those not receiving the blood meal. These results indicate that the trade-off between survival and immediate reproduction is resolved by young adult females in accordance with availability of resources and gonotrophic state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-774
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anopheles gambiae s.s.
  • Behavioural sequence
  • Energetic reserve
  • Mating
  • Sugar feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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