Host-seeking activity and avian host preferences of mosquitoes associated with West Nile virus transmission in the Northeastern U.S.A.

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Mosquito host-seeking activity was studied using a custom-designed trap to explore: (1) at which time interval of the night adult mosquito abatement would be most effective, and (2) if there exists an avian-specific host-seeking preference. Overnight trials using traps baited with dry ice showed that Aedes taeniorhynchus (Wiedemann) was most active at dusk and was then captured throughout the night. In contrast, Culex spp. (Cx. pipiens (Linnaeus) and Cx. restuans (Theobald) delayed most activity until about two h after dusk and were then captured through the night. This pattern suggests that management activities directed at adult Culex spp. would be most effective if initiated well after sunset. Mosquito capture rates in traps baited with birds in net bags were significantly greater than those with empty net bags, indicating that mosquitoes were attracted to the birds and not incidentally being sucked in by the custom trap's strong fan motor (Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test, n = 24, t = 30, p < 0.05). Regression analysis showed that bird weight influenced mosquito attraction (r 2 = 0.21, p = 0.02). Trials with paired traps that contained different native bird species showed that Gray Catbirds, Dumatella carolinensis, attracted more mosquitoes than the heavier Northern Cardinals, Cardinalis cardinalis (paired samples t-test, t = 2.58, df = 7, p = 0.04). However, attractiveness did not differ substantially among bird species, and Gray Catbirds did not attract more mosquitoes than all other birds combined as a group. American Robins, Turdus migratorius (n = 4) were comparable in attractiveness to other bird species, but not enough American Robins were captured for a comprehensive study of mosquito avian preference.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Vector Ecology