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

F.T. Muijres, S.W. Chang, W.G. van Veen, J. Spitzen, B.T. Biemans, M.A.R. Koehl, R. Dudley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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 the malaria mosquito Anopheles coluzzii using 3D motion analysis of high-speed stereoscopic videos of mosquito take-offs and aerodynamic modeling. We found that during the push-off phase, mosquitoes enhanced take-off speed using aerodynamic forces generated by the beating wings in addition to leg-based push-off forces, whereby wing forces contributed 61% of 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 in escaping from blood-hosts, which consequently also increases the chance of transmitting vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, to future hosts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3751-3762
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume220
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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malaria
Touch
Culicidae
mosquito
Malaria
blood
Leg
legs
aerodynamics
Diptera
Fruit
skin
fruit
fruit flies
Disease Vectors
skin (animal)
Skin
Anopheles
speed
detection

Keywords

  • Aerodynamics
  • Biomechanics
  • Flight behavior
  • Insect
  • Take-off maneuvers
  • Wingbeat kinematics
  • 017-4038

Cite this

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title = "Escaping blood-fed malaria mosquitoes minimize tactile detection without compromising on take-off speed",
abstract = "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 the malaria mosquito Anopheles coluzzii using 3D motion analysis of high-speed stereoscopic videos of mosquito take-offs and aerodynamic modeling. We found that during the push-off phase, mosquitoes enhanced take-off speed using aerodynamic forces generated by the beating wings in addition to leg-based push-off forces, whereby wing forces contributed 61{\%} of 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 in escaping from blood-hosts, which consequently also increases the chance of transmitting vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, to future hosts.",
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author = "F.T. Muijres and S.W. Chang and {van Veen}, W.G. and J. Spitzen and B.T. Biemans and M.A.R. Koehl and R. Dudley",
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Escaping blood-fed malaria mosquitoes minimize tactile detection without compromising on take-off speed. / Muijres, F.T.; Chang, S.W.; van Veen, W.G.; Spitzen, J.; Biemans, B.T.; Koehl, M.A.R.; Dudley, R.

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 220, No. 20, 2017, p. 3751-3762.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Escaping blood-fed malaria mosquitoes minimize tactile detection without compromising on take-off speed

AU - Muijres, F.T.

AU - Chang, S.W.

AU - van Veen, W.G.

AU - Spitzen, J.

AU - Biemans, B.T.

AU - Koehl, M.A.R.

AU - Dudley, R.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - 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 the malaria mosquito Anopheles coluzzii using 3D motion analysis of high-speed stereoscopic videos of mosquito take-offs and aerodynamic modeling. We found that during the push-off phase, mosquitoes enhanced take-off speed using aerodynamic forces generated by the beating wings in addition to leg-based push-off forces, whereby wing forces contributed 61% of 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 in escaping from blood-hosts, which consequently also increases the chance of transmitting vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, to future hosts.

AB - 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 the malaria mosquito Anopheles coluzzii using 3D motion analysis of high-speed stereoscopic videos of mosquito take-offs and aerodynamic modeling. We found that during the push-off phase, mosquitoes enhanced take-off speed using aerodynamic forces generated by the beating wings in addition to leg-based push-off forces, whereby wing forces contributed 61% of 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 in escaping from blood-hosts, which consequently also increases the chance of transmitting vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, to future hosts.

KW - Aerodynamics

KW - Biomechanics

KW - Flight behavior

KW - Insect

KW - Take-off maneuvers

KW - Wingbeat kinematics

KW - 017-4038

U2 - 10.1242/jeb.163402

DO - 10.1242/jeb.163402

M3 - Article

VL - 220

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JO - Journal of Experimental Biology

JF - Journal of Experimental Biology

SN - 0022-0949

IS - 20

ER -