Thesis subject

Mating in mosquito swarms

MSc student looking for a thesis? Willing to go to Terni, Italy? Then, we want you!

Swarming is a natural mating behavior of mosquitoes, occurring mainly during the sunset and in the darkness. Swarms are composed by males with females typically entering a swarm and leaving in copula. Swarm size is strongly correlated to the mating events and governed by site-specific factors such as visual cues. Field data indicate that temporal and spatial swarm segregation prevents hybridization between the sympatric species of An. gambiae complex, acting as pre-mating barriers.

In this project, we aim to study the mating dynamics in mosquito swarms using automated 3D video tracking. The project will take place at ultra-modern laboratory of PoloGGB in Terni, Italy ( This group has recently developed a laboratory setup that allows for swarming behavior in mosquitoes.

The MSc student will have the opportunity to:

Acquire knowledge in setting up a video recording system for the study of mosquito behavior, and in behavioral data analysis
Set up a novel recording system for the study of mosquito swarms in large cages
Develop an experimental design for the study of mosquito swarming behavior in large cages: in particular, the definition of different variables such as time, space, shape and composition of the swarm will be important to characterize the mating behavior of different mosquito species
These major achievements will represent a milestone for future mosquito behavioral and ecological studies in semi-field conditions

This study is part of a collaborative project between the Experimental Zoology Group and the Laboratory of Entomology.