Flower odors are important signals for chemical communication between plants and flower visitors. Here, we studied the naïve responses of Culex pipiens pipiens biotype molestus Forskal 1775 (Diptera: Culicidae) to typical flower odors and assessed the learning capacity of mosquitoes to floral volatiles. The odor compounds used in the bioassay, phenyl acetaldehyde, veratrole, and 2-methoxyphenol, are typically found in the floral odor of Silene otites (L.) Wibel, a plant that is pollinated by nectar-drinking mosquitoes and moths, and/or in other closely related Silene species. Wind tunnel bioassays with a mixture of these compounds revealed that attraction of mosquitoes to odors was positively correlated with time passed since the last feeding. In single component bioassays, mosquitoes showed strong innate responses to phenyl acetaldehyde and only moderate or weak responses to veratrole and 2-methoxyphenol. Furthermore, in comparison with naïve mosquitoes, conditioned mosquitoes were significantly more attracted to the mixture and single volatiles. These results indicate that naïve mosquitoes are effectively attracted by appropriate floral scent compounds and that learning can increase the attractiveness of these compounds.
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Vol. 43 • No. 6