Data from: Escaping blood-fed malaria mosquitoes minimize tactile detection without compromising on take-off speed

Dataset

Description

To escape after taking a blood meal, a mosquito must exert forces sufficiently high to take off when carrying a load roughly equal to its body weight, while simultaneously avoiding detection by minimizing tactile signals exerted on the host's skin. We studied this trade-off between escape speed and stealth in malaria mosquitoes, Anopheles coluzzii, using 3D motion analysis of high-speed stereoscopic videos of mosquito take-offs and aerodynamic modelling. We found that during the push-off phase, mosquitoes enhanced take-off speed by using aerodynamic forces generated by the beating wings in addition to leg-based push-off forces, whereby wing forces contributed 61% to the total push-off force. Exchanging leg-derived push-off forces for wing-derived aerodynamic forces allows the animal to reduce peak force production on the host's skin. By slowly extending their long legs throughout the push-off, mosquitoes spread push-off forces over a longer time window than insects with short legs, thereby further reducing peak leg forces. Using this specialized take-off behavior, mosquitoes are capable of reaching take-off speeds comparable to those of similarly-sized fruit flies, but with weight-normalized peak leg forces that were only 27% of those of the fruit flies. By limiting peak leg forces, mosquitoes possibly reduce the chance of being detected by the host. The resulting combination of high take-off speed and low tactile signals on the host might help increase the mosquito's success to escape from blood-hosts, which consequently also increases the chance that they transmit vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, to future hosts.
Date made available17 Aug 2017
PublisherWageningen University & Research

Cite this

Muijres, F. T. (Creator), Chang, S. W. (Creator), van Veen, W. G. (Creator), Spitzen, J. (Creator), Biemans, B. (Creator), Koehl, M. A. R. (Creator), Dudley, R. (Creator)(17 Aug 2017). Data from: Escaping blood-fed malaria mosquitoes minimize tactile detection without compromising on take-off speed. Wageningen University & Research. 10.5061/dryad.1b312