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The Effects of Host Availability and Fitness on Aedes albopictus Blood Feeding Patterns in New York

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  • 1 Entomology Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

ABSTRACT.

Aedes albopictus is a competent vector of numerous pathogens, representing a range of transmission cycles involving unique hosts. Despite the important status of this vector, variation in its feeding patterns is poorly understood. We examined the feeding patterns of Ae. albopictus utilizing resting collections in Long Island, NY, and contextualized blood meal sources with host availability measured by household interviews and camera traps. We identified 90 blood meals, including 29 humans, 22 cats, 16 horses, 12 opossums, 5 dogs, 2 goats, and 1 each of rabbit, rat, squirrel, and raccoon. This is only the third study of Ae. albopictus blood feeding biology that quantitatively assessed domestic host availability and is the first to do so with wild animals. Host feeding indices showed that cats and dogs were fed upon disproportionately often compared with humans. Forage ratios suggested a tendency to feed on cats and opossums and to avoid raccoons, squirrels, and birds. This feeding pattern was different from another published study from Baltimore, where Ae. albopictus fed more often on rats than humans. To understand whether these differences were because of host availability or mosquito population variation, we compared the fitness of New York and Baltimore Ae. albopictus after feeding on rat and human blood. In addition, we examined fitness within the New York population after feeding on human, rat, cat, horse, and opossum blood. Together, our results do not indicate major mosquito fitness differences by blood hosts, suggesting that fitness benefits do not drive Northeastern Ae. albopictus feeding patterns.

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Author Notes

Address correspondence to Kara Fikrig, Entomology Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850. E-mail: kmf227@cornell.edu

Financial support: This work was supported in part through Cooperative Agreement U01CK000509 between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Cornell University/Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases.

Disclaimer: This material is solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Authors’ addresses: Kara Fikrig, Elisabeth Martin, Sharon Dang, Kimberly St Fleur, Henry Goldsmith, Sophia Qu, Hannah Rosenthal, Sylvie Pitcher, and Laura C. Harrington, Entomology Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, E-mails: kmf227@cornell.edu, em824@cornell.edu, std44@cornell.edu, ks947@cornell.edu, henrygoldsmith54@gmail.com, sq47@cornell.edu, her43@cornell.edu, sylviepitcher@gmail.com, and lch27@cornell.edu.

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