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Open Access Research

Feeding patterns of molestus and pipiens forms of Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae) in a region of high hybridization

Bruno Gomes12, Carla A Sousa13, José L Vicente12, Leonor Pinho13, Isabel Calderón12, Eliane Arez12, António PG Almeida13, Martin J Donnelly4 and João Pinto12*

Author Affiliations

1 Unidade de Parasitologia Médica, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Rua da Junqueira 100, Lisboa, 1349-008, Portugal

2 Centro de Malária e outras Doenças Tropicais, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Rua da Junqueira 100, Lisboa, 1349-008, Portugal

3 Unidade de Parasitologia e Microbiologia Médicas, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Rua da Junqueira 100, Lisboa, 1349-008, Portugal

4 Department of Vector Biology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, L3 5QA, UK

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:93  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-93

Published: 11 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Two biological forms of the mosquito Culex pipiens s.s., denoted pipiens and molestus, display behavioural differences that may affect their role as vectors of arboviruses. In this study, the feeding patterns of molestus and pipiens forms were investigated in Comporta (Portugal), where high levels of inter-form admixture have been recorded.

Methods

Indoor and outdoor mosquito collections were performed in the summer of 2010. Collected Cx. pipiens s.l. females were molecularly identified to species and form by PCR and genotyped for six microsatellites. The source of the blood meal in post-fed females was determined by ELISA and mitochondrial DNA sequencing.

Results

The distribution of the forms differed according to the collection method. The molestus form was present only in indoor collections, whereas pipiens and admixed individuals were sampled both indoors and outdoors. In both forms, over 90% of blood meals were made on avian hosts. These included blood meals taken from Passeriformes (Passer domesticus and Turdus merula) by females caught resting inside domestic shelters.

Conclusion

Genetic structure and blood meal analyses suggest the presence of a bird biting molestus population in the study area. Both forms were found to rest indoors, mainly in avian shelters, but at least a proportion of females of the pipiens form may bite outdoors in sylvan habitats and then search for anthropogenic resting sites to complete their gonotrophic cycle. This behaviour may potentiate the accidental transmission of arboviruses to humans in the region.

Keywords:
Culex pipiens; Molestus; Hybridization; Host preferences; Resting behaviour