Species-specific non-physical interference competition among mosquito larvae Academic Article uri icon


  • Individuals of different sex, size or developmental stage can compete differently and hence contribute distinctively to population dynamics. In species with complex life cycles such as insects, competitive ability is often positively correlated with larval developmental stage. Yet, little is known on how the development and survival of early-instars is influenced by interference from late-instar larvae, especially at low densities when exploitative competition is expected to be negligible. Furthermore, the specificity and mechanisms by which interference competition operates are largely unknown. We performed two complementary experiments aiming to quantify the competitive effects of late instar Ochlerotatus caspius on early instar larvae at low densities and under high resource supply rate. The first experiment examined the net effect of interference by 4(th) on 1(st) instar O. caspius larvae, relative to the effect of 1(st) instars on themselves. The second experiment examined the effect of species-specific, non-physical interference competition (i.e., cage larvae) by 4(th) on 1(st) instar O. caspius larvae at low or high densities. Specifically, we compared the responses of O. caspius larvae raised in the presence of caged con- or hetero-specific, Culiseta longiareolata, with that of larvae in the empty-cage control group. As expected, interference from late instar larvae had a net negative effect on the development rate of first instars. In contrast, the presence of caged con-specifics (non-physical interference) accelerated the development rate of O. caspius, however, this pattern was only evident at the low density. Notably, no such pattern was detected in the presence of caged hetero-specifics. These results strongly suggest the existence of species-specific growth regulating semiochemicals.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014