New York: Mosquitoes known to transmit diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya are more likely to lay eggs in water sources near flowers, new research has found.
The researchers studied the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and its egg-laying preferences.
"This study provides evidence of the attractiveness of flowering butterfly bushes to ovipositing (i.e., egg-laying) Aedes albopictus," said one of the study authors Timothy Davis from University of Florida in the US.
Asian tiger mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in containers, so the first thing the scientists decided to test was whether the size of the containers made any difference.
They were also curious about whether or not the presence of flowers might affect the egg-laying behaviour, due to the fact that mosquitoes drink nectar from flowers.
The researchers studied female mosquitoes that had been fed bloodmeals and released in large cages with water containers flowering buttterfly bushes.
They found significantly more eggs in the largest containers, and they found more eggs in containers next to flowering bushes than in containers without flowers.
These findings could lead to new methods of controlling the mosquito.
"One of the potential outcomes of this study might be that someone could look at the flower fragrances as a way to lure egg-laying female mosquitoes to some sort of trap," Phil Kaufman from University of Florida pointed out.
The researchers suggest that female mosquitoes lay eggs near flowers for a variety of possible reasons.
Nectar is an important energy source, so pregnant females are obviously attracted to the flowers in order to feed themselves.
But it could also have something to do with providing food for the next generation in the form of nectar.
The study was published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.