The importance of predation as a mortality factor in adult mosquitoes has received only limited attention in the scientific literature. Despite the lack of consensus among researchers as to whether bats are important predators of mosquitoes, there have been no attempts to directly document the effect of bats on mosquito populations or behavior. We conducted an enclosure experiment to test the hypothesis that bats reduce the local abundance of ovipositing female mosquitoes by examining whether the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis Trouessart) had an effect on Culex spp. (Diptera: Culicidae) oviposition, using naturally occurring mosquitoes, either through direct predation or trait mediated effects on mosquito behavior. We found a significant, 32% reduction in egg-laying activity associated with bat predation. Artificial oviposition habitats directly outside bat enclosures experienced no reduction in oviposition; we attributed the observed reduction in egg-laying activity to direct predation on ovipositing females by bats and not changes in mosquito behavior. In addition, we noted a decrease in the number of larval mosquitoes in enclosures exposed to bat predation. These results suggest the impact of aerial predators on pathogen transmission may be large, and warrants further scientific investigation.
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Vol. 46 • No. 5