Harrison, E.R., & Budenberg, W.J. (2021). Mosquito larvae (Culex spp.) startle responses to vibration stimuli. bioRxiv. 2021 Feb 18; 431787.
We explored startle responses of Culex spp. larvae to varying frequencies and durations of vibrations, before investigating habituation (a behavioural learning phenomenon). The startle response consists of a rapid movement to permit escape from a potentially dangerous stimulus. We used the automated Zantiks MWP_vb unit to analyse larval startle responses through the built-in live video tracking. Set within the unit's controlled environmental chamber, we recorded distance travelled by the larvae. These results were used to optimise the vibration startle response for use in habituation studies. Repeated vibrations appeared to reduce larvae startle responses, although further analysis is required to confirm habituation. This study not only provides an insight into the learning ability of mosquito larvae, but demonstrates the ease, replicability and control conferred by the automated unit. Furthermore, this method is applicable to many other organisms and shows potential for more sophisticated environmental effect testing, such as behavioural toxicology.
mosquitos; larvae; behaviour; startle; habituation