For a female mosquito, the wrong guy can mean no babies

Mating across species lines makes a female yellow fever mosquito lose interest in her own kind

satyr statue

LUST AND LOSS  Named for the lustful satyrs of Greek mythology, satyrization occurs when a male of one species mates with a female of another species and thereby prevents her from having young.  



A process in which animals mate across species, preventing females from reproducing.

For the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, choosing the wrong mate can be a real buzzkill. Female A. aegypti mosquitoes can mistake male Asian tiger mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus, for eligible bachelors. But if a female yellow fever mosquito mates with an Asian tiger male, it could spoil a chance at motherhood.

This process is called satyrization, after the lecherous goat-man hybrids of Greek mythology. Mythological satyrs had a habit of chasing beautiful maidens through the forest. Yellow fever mosquito females would do well to flee their own satyrs. Canoodling with Asian tiger males makes yellow fever females less likely to mate with their own species, researchers report September 16 in Biology Letters.

After living with Asian tiger males for three weeks, less than 8 percent of yellow fever females successfully mated with their own kind and laid healthy eggs. Fluids from an Asian tiger mosquito lothario’s glands were enough to make a yellow fever female lose interest in mating with yellow fever males, says study coauthor María Carrasquilla, of the University of Florida in Vero Beach.

Satyrization may help explain why invading Asian tiger mosquitoes have reduced populations of yellow fever mosquitoes in the southeastern United States.

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