Date of Award

Spring 1986

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Rodents seldom are identified as hosts for mosquitoes, based on serological analysis of bloodmeals. However, due to limited survey and lack of sensitivity in most bloodmeal analyses, host species can be misrepresented or undetected. Knowledge of behavior of a potential host species can complement results of bloodmeal analysis, because active vertebrates may prevent mosquito feeding and thus rarely serve as hosts. The objectives of this study were to characterize anti-mosquito behavior in the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus noveboracensis) and to examine effectiveness of such behavior in mice based on age, prior exposure to mosquitoes, and immediate environment.

I used wild-stock Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes, reared in lab, in experiments with four groups of mice: (1) wild-caught adult males in a barren enclosure; (2) wild-caught adult males in an enclosure with seeds and nest material that could be manipulated, simulating natural activity; (3) adult males from a lab colony of P. leucopus; and (4) wild-stock, lab-reared juveniles with or without "practice" (prior exposure to mosquitoes). I used an electronic event recorder to monitor grooming, exploring, resting, and anti-mosquito actions. I observed each mouse without and then with mosquitoes. I then anesthetized each mouse to verify that lack of mosquito feeding success on the non-anesthetized (active) mouse was due to mouse behavior.

Results indicated that the role of prior exposure to mosquitoes was minimal. Wild adult mice maintained defense while handling and eating seeds, implying that anti-mosquito behavior probably is an integral part of their activity in nature. Certain actions, such as ear-flick, occurred almost exclusively when mosquitoes were present. Juveniles usually caught, killed, and ate more mosquitoes than did adults. Individuality of mouse behavior affected the outcome of mouse-mosquito interactions. All mice, except one, had highly effective defense against mosquitoes. Therefore, P. leucopus probably rarely serves as host for mosquitoes in nature and, thus, as host or reservoir for mosquito-borne diseases.