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Host-Feeding Habits of Culex and Other Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) in the Borough of Queens in New York City, with Characters and Techniques for Identification of Culex Mosquitoes

Charles S. Apperson, Bruce A. Harrison, Thomas R. Unnasch, Hassan K. Hassan, William S. Irby, Harry M. Savage, Stephen E. Aspen, D. Wesley Watson, Leopoldo M. Rueda, Barry R. Engber, Roger S. Nasci
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-39.5.777 777-785 First published online: 1 September 2002

Abstract

The host-feeding patterns of mosquitoes (n = 247) collected in the Borough of Queens in New York City in July and August 2000 were investigated using an indirect ELISA and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-heteroduplex assay. Culex pipiens L. and Cx. restuans Theobald fed primarily on birds, and their feeding habits support their implication as enzootic vectors of West Nile virus. Culex salinarius Coquillett and Coquillettidia perturbans (Walker) fed mainly on mammals, with fewer blood meals taken from birds, and these two species are potential bridge vectors of West Nile virus. Culex mosquitoes took blood meals (n = 54) from 11 different avian species. Only the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), American robin (Turdus migratorius), and Brown-headed cow bird (MolIothrus ater) were fed upon by all three Culex species. Multiple blood feedings on avian hosts were detected in Cx. pipiens and Cx. restuans. Species identifications of Culex mosquitoes made using morphological characteristics were confirmed with a PCR assay that employed species-specific primers. All Cx. pipiens (n = 20) and Cx. salinarius (n = 10) specimens were correctly identified, but three (20%) of 15 Cx. restuans were misidentified as Cx. pipiens.

  • blood feeding habits
  • mosquitoes
  • birds
  • Culex
  • West Nile virus
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