Blood-feeding ecology of mosquitoes in zoos


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Abstract

Abstract.To determine if the unique host assemblages in zoos influence blood-feeding by mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae), a sampling programme was conducted in Greenville and Riverbanks Zoos, South Carolina, U.S.A., from April 2009 to October 2010. A total of 4355 female mosquitoes of 14 species were collected, of which 106 individuals of nine species were blood-fed. The most common taxa were Aedes albopictus (Skuse), Aedes triseriatus (Say), Anopheles punctipennis (Say), Culex erraticus (Dyar & Knab), Culex pipiens complex (L.) and Culex restuans (Theobald). Molecular analyses (cytochrome b) of bloodmeals revealed that mosquitoes fed on captive animals, humans and wildlife, and took mixed bloodmeals. Host species included one amphibian, 16 birds, 10 mammals (including humans) and two reptiles. Minimum dispersal distances after feeding on captive hosts ranged from 15.5 m to 327.0 m. Mosquito–host associations generally conformed to previous accounts, indicating that mosquito behaviour inside zoos reflects that outside zoos. However, novel variation in host use, including new, exotic host records, warrants further investigation. Zoos, thus, can be used as experiment environments in which to study mosquito behaviour, and the findings extrapolated to non-zoo areas, while providing medical and veterinary benefits to zoo animals, employees and patrons.

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