Evarcha culicivora Wesolowska & Jackson 2003 is a jumping spider (Aranea: Salticidae) that has the distinction of being the only predator known to express an active preference for the vectors of human malaria (i.e., the mosquito genus Anopheles) and to feed indirectly on blood by choosing blood-carrying female mosquitoes as prey. Here we examine this predator's preference profile in greater detail than has been achieved before. Lures (dead prey mounted in life-like posture) were made from two mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae and Culex quinquefasciatus) and a non-biting midge (Clinotanypus claripennis). Testing protocols were simultaneous presentation (two prey presented simultaneously), alternate day (two prey, each presented singly but on alternate days) and alternative prey (second prey presented while test spider feeding on first prey). Pre-trial fasts were 1, 7, 15 and 21 days. Findings from this combination of variables were used to estimate strengths of preferences. Besides confirming the preference of E. culicivora for blood meals and for Anopheles in particular, we provide the first evidence of a preference, independent of blood meals, for female instead of male mosquitoes. The strength of preference, measured by its persistence despite increasingly long pre-trial fasts, shows that preference for Anopheles is expressed by juveniles more strongly than by adults, but preference for blood meals is expressed by adults more strongly than by juveniles.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1