Teneral reserves are utilized to initiate previtellogenic ovarian development in mosquitoes. Females having emerged with low teneral reserves have reduced juvenile hormone (JH) synthesis and previtellogenic development. We investigated what role JH, allatotropin (AT) and other head-factors play in the regulation of previtellogenic ovarian development and adult survivorship. Factors from the head are essential for corpora allata (CA) activation and reproductive maturation. We have shown that decapitation of females within 9-12h after adult ecdysis prevented normal development of the previtellogenic follicles; however maximum previtellogenic ovarian development could be induced in decapitated females by topically applying a JH analog. When females were decapitated 12 or more hours after emergence nutritional resources had been committed to ovarian development and survivorship was significantly reduced. To study if allatotropin levels correlated with teneral reserves, we measured AT titers in the heads of two adult phenotypes (large and small females) generated by raising larvae under different nutritional diets. In large mosquitoes AT levels increased to a maximum of 45 fmol in day 4; in contrast, the levels of allatotropin in the heads of small mosquitoes remained below 9 fmol during the 7 days evaluated. These results suggest that only when nutrients are appropriate, factors released from the brain induce the CA to synthesize enough JH to activate reproductive maturation.