Eggs of Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes are stimulated to hatch when inundated with water, but only a small fraction of eggs from the same batch will hatch for any given stimulus. Similar hatching or germination patterns are observed in desert plants, copepods, rotifers, insects, and many other species. Bet hedging theory suggests that parents stagger offspring emergence into vulnerable life history stages in order to avoid catastrophic reproductive failures. For Ae. triseriatus, a treehole breeding mosquito, immediate hatching of an entire clutch leaves all of the parent's progeny vulnerable to extinction in the event of a severe drought. Natural selection has likely favored parents that pursued a bet hedging strategy where the risk of reproductive failure is distributed over time. Considering treehole mosquitoes, bet hedging theory could be used to predict that hatch delay would be positively correlated with the likelihood of drought. To test this prediction, we collected Ae. triseriatus from habitats that varied widely in mean annual precipitation and exposed them to several hatch stimuli in the laboratory. Here we report that, as predicted, Ae. triseriatus eggs from high precipitation regions showed less hatch delay than areas of low precipitation. This strategy probably allows Ae. triseriatus to cope with the wide variety of climatic conditions that it faces in its extensive geographical range.
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