Culex erraticus (Dyar & Knab) is a competent vector of Eastern equine encephalitis virus and subtype IC Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, and both St. Louis encephalitis virus and West Nile virus have been isolated from field-collected specimens. Previous bloodmeal analysis studies have shown this species to be a generalist, feeding on a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. This behavior can bridge arboviral transmission across different vertebrate groups. Our study examined the host preference of Cx. erraticus at Sonso Lake in Colombia. From July to August 2008, blood-engorged mosquitoes were collected from resting boxes, while vertebrate abundance was determined to calculate host preference. Based on mitochondrial DNA analysis of bloodmeals, birds were the predominant hosts (57.6%), followed by mammals (30.8%), and reptiles (6.7%); 9.5% of the bloodmeals were mixed. The most commonly fed upon species were: limpkin, black-crowned nightheron, striated heron, human, and capybara. Forage ratios showed the least bittern, limpkin, Cocoi heron, striated heron, capybara, and black-crowned night heron were preferred hosts across all vertebrates. Of the available avifauna, the least bittern, limpkin, striated heron, Cocoi heron, and black-crowned night heron were preferred, whereas the bare faced ibis, great egret, snowy egret, and cattle egret were under-used. This study shows that while Cx. erraticus is an opportunistic feeder, using diverse vertebrate hosts in the environment, certain avian species are targeted preferentially for bloodmeals.
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Vol. 49 • No. 5