A wide variety of blood-feeding Diptera feed on extrafloral sugar sources such as homopteran honeydew. The significance of these sugar sources to insect survival and disease transmission is poorly known. Culicoides sonorensis, a biting midge, can survive on plant sugars but might also feed on homopteran honeydew. The survival of C. sonorensis fed 10% melezitose or 10% stachyose was compared to that of C. sonorensis fed 10% sucrose. A significantly greater number of C. sonorensis survived longer when fed melezitose than when fed either stachyose or sucrose. The effect of sugar meals on vector competence was measured using bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses. There was no significant difference in viral persistence. However, if C. sonorensis feeds on homopteran honeydew in the wild, a larger number of midges could survive to transmit orbiviruses.
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Vol. 70 • No. 1