The life table attributes of Culex tarsalis Coquillett females infected experimentally by feeding on 4 and 6 log10 plaque-forming units (PFU) of western equine encephalomyelitis virus (WEEV) per milliliter of heparinized chicken blood were compared with an uninfected control group. Females continually were offered 10% sucrose and an oviposition substrate and daily a blood meal through a biomembrane feeder. Mortality (dead females) and fecundity (female eggs per female) were monitored daily until all females died. Overall, 94% of 198 females in the two virus-infected groups were positive for WEEV at death when tested by plaque assay; the average body virus titer at death did not differ between groups. WEEV infection significantly altered the life table characteristics of Cx. tarsalis. Life expectancy at infection in days (ex), reproductive effort in female eggs per female per generation (Ro), and generation time (T) in days for the infected cohorts were significantly lower than for the uninfected controls, whereas the reproductive rate (rc) in female eggs per female per day was higher for infected than uninfected cohorts. In agreement with the WEEV infection data that showed similar body titers, there were few differences between the life table parameters for the 4 and 6 log10 PFU treatment groups. Greatest differences were observed for survivorship between days 17–40 when virus titers in infected dying females were greatest. Our data extend recent studies that indicate mosquito infection with encephalitis viruses has a cost of reduced life expectancy and fitness.
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Vol. 41 • No. 5