Culicoides sonorensis Wirth and Jones transmits bluetongue virus and develops in a variety of polluted mud habitats. Egg desiccation tolerance was tested by obtaining eggs of known age, drying them, and placing them back on wet substrate. Eggs 4–10 h old failed to hatch after 12 h of drying at 75% relative humidity (RH). Older eggs (28–34 h) survived severe desiccation and >50% water weight loss. They regained their water within ≈2 h of rehydration. Relative to control eggs, average egg hatch was reduced by 36% after 12 h of drying, 79% after 24 h, 91% after 36 h, and 97% after 48 h. Some embryos (1%) survived and hatched after 60 h of drying and water losses of nearly 60%. Eggs in specific 25–40 h age categories did not differ in hatch after a 12-h desiccation stress; critical embryo age to survive drying is between 10 and 24 h. Humidity gradients relieved desiccation stress, and eggs appeared to regain water from saturated RH conditions. Individual, gravid C. sonorensis oviposited in 1-liter containers with an artificial mud bank. If they laid eggs, 73% deposited them singly in lines ranging up to 5–6 cm in length (meanderers), while 27% laid eggs in clumps (dumpers). Eggs were positioned an average of 45 ± 12 mm back from waterline. Younger eggs, if laid in early evening, may not experience severe desiccation. Embryo recovery from such severe desiccation could be adaptive in ephemeral habitats where the species may have evolved.
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Vol. 51 • No. 6