Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Matthew Aardema

Committee Member

Scott Kight

Committee Member

Lisa Hazard


The mosquito, Culex pipiens f. molestus, is a scientifically relevant species due to its impact upon both human and veterinary medicine. This city dwelling disease vector lives and reproduces in underground tunnels and sewer systems throughout the world. After reproducing, adults begin searching for food above ground, but little is known about the sensory signals that guide this seeking behavior. Because cues may have a major impact on feeding and reproduction, I compared the phototaxic response of adult male and female Cx. pipiens f. molestus at different reproductive states. Virgin females, mated females, virgin males, and mated males were monitored to determine how they would respond to a light signal at one end of a tunnel. All groups showed a significant positive phototaxic response. However, the response of virgin females was less pronounced than the responses of the other groups. The overall positive phototaxic response indicates that Culex pipiens f. molestus may be using light signals, at least in part, to initiate seeking behavior. The lesser response of virgin females is potentially due to a biological mechanism that delays host-seeking, even in the presence of initiating cues, until after reproduction has occurred.

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Biology Commons