What do geckos like for diner?

One predator of mosquitoes that is often found inside houses in the tropics are the house geckos. House geckos can be found in all colors and sizes and you can see them often feeding on insects that are attracted to lights. During the day they often hide in dark places, where mosquitoes often hide as well. To find out what impact house geckos have on mosquitoes inside these houses it is important to better understand their feeding behavior.

Together with two students from the University of Applied Sciences Van Hall Larenstein we investigated the feeding behavior of two common house geckos in central Thailand: the Asian house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) and the flat-tailed house gecko (H. platyurus). We observed house geckos while feeding and counted the attack rate on various prey and estimated the effort for each attack as the total distance walked towards a prey. The results showed that house geckos prefer moths (Lepidoptera) over any other kind of insect. In addition, house gecko invested slightly more energy in attacks on mosquitoes than on insects from different orders. This slight preference for mosquitoes can possibly be explained by the fact that mosquitoes are soft bodied and are easily digested in contrast to for example beetles which have a hard exoskeleton.

Previous experimental studies have also shown that house geckos can feed on very high number of mosquitoes (Canyon and Hii 1997). However, what the effect of house geckos is on the natural control of mosquitoes in and around our houses remains unclear, but we are working hard to figure that out

You can find the results from the complete study here.

References

Canyon, D.V., Hii, J.L.K. (1997): The gecko: an environmentally friendly biological agent for mosquito control. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 11: 319–323.

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