Host-feeding patterns of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) in relation to availability of human and domestic animals in suburban landscapes of central North Carolina

Stephanie L. Richards, Loganathan Ponnusamy, Thomas R. Unnasch, Hassan K. Hassan, Charles S. Apperson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aedes albopictus (Skuse) (Diptera: Culicidae) is a major nuisance mosquito and a potential arbovirus vector. The host-feeding patterns of Ae. albopictus were investigated during the 2002 and 2003 mosquito seasons in suburban neighborhoods in Wake County, Raleigh, NC. Hosts of blood-fed Ae. albopictus (n = 1,094) were identified with an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, by using antisera made in New Zealand White rabbits to the sera of animals that would commonly occur in peridomestic habitats. Ae. albopictus fed predominantly on mammalian hosts (83%). Common mammalian hosts included humans (24%), cats (21%), and dogs (14%). However, a notable proportion (7%) of bloodmeals also was taken from avian hosts. Some bloodmeals taken from birds were identified to species by a polymerase chain reaction-heteroduplex assay (PCR-HDA). Ae. albopictus fed predominantly on chickens and a northern cardinal. PCR-HDA failed to produce detectable products for 29 (58%) of 50 bloodmeals for which DNA had been amplified, indicating that these mosquitoes took mixed bloodmeals from avian and nonavian hosts. Ae. albopictus preference for humans, dogs, and cats was determined by calculating host-feeding indices for the three host pairs based on the proportion of host specific blood-fed mosquitoes collected in relation to the number of specific hosts per residence as established by a door-to-door survey conducted in 2003. Estimates of the average amount of time that residents and their pets (cats and dogs) spent out of doors were obtained. Host-feeding indices based only on host abundance indicated that Ae. albopictus was more likely to feed on domestic animals. However, when feeding indices were time-weighted, Ae. albopictus fed preferentially upon humans. Ae. albopictus blood feeding on humans was investigated using a STR/PCR-DNA profiling technique that involved amplification of three short tandem repeats loci. Of 40 human bloodmeals, 32 (80%) were from a single human, whereas eight (20%) were multiple bloodmeals taken from more than one human host. We conclude that the blood-feeding preference of Ae. albopictus for mammals will limit acquisition of arboviruses by this species from infected avian amplification hosts. This feeding preference likely limits the vector potential of Ae. albopictus for North American arboviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-551
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aedes albopictus
  • Blood feeding
  • Feeding indices
  • Host availability
  • Microsatellite analyses

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