Feeding

Mosquitoes obtain their blood meals from a very wide variety of hosts. These include warm-blooded animals as birds, cattle, pigs, numerous wild animals, and humans; and cold-blooded animals such as frogs, lizards, snakes, insect nymphs and pupae.  

The choice of host varies greatly with the species of mosquito and the availability of the host. Many species have a marked predilection for one type of host which they select if reasonable available, taking other hosts only in the absence of their preferred food (Macdonald, 1957). Other mosquitoes have no particular preferences and will feed readily on a wide range of hosts. 

Two types of feeding have been described by Gordon and Lumsden (1939): 'pool feeding', in which a capillary is ruptured by the tip of the fascicle and the blood is sucked from the small pool formed by the ensuing haemorrhage; and 'capillary feeding', in which the blood is taken up as a result of the fascicle penetrating into the lumen of a capillary.  

Most mosquitoes are capillary, however there are also some pool feeders (Mehlhorn, 2001). 

Seasonal and Circadian Dynamics

Blood feeding in mosquitoes follows a species-specific circadian rhythm, with three main patterns: 

  1. nocturnal with feeding occurring at night –probably most species belong to this group, e.g. some Aedes species and Mansonia africana
  2. diurnal, if feeding occurs largely during daylight hours, e.g. Aedes apicoargenteus and Aedes longipalpis;  
  3. crepuscular, if feeding occurs largely during twilight hours, at dusk or at dawn, e.g. Aedes africanus and Anopheles gambiae (Goma, 1966).  

Host Seeking Behaviour

Two main determinant complexes influence mosquito host location:  

  1. endogenous determinants such as genetic make-up, age, mating condition, gonotrophic status, nutritional status and circadian rhythm of the female mosquito; and  
  2. exogenous determinants, defined by the host and the environment like availability and enamations of the host  

The mosquito host-finding can be divided into successive phases: activation, oriented flight to the host, alighting on the host, probing, ingestion, withdrawal, and take-off (Mehlhorn, 2001). The oriented flight is regulated by anemotaxis. Movements of the host are registered by optomotor responses and emanations are noticed. Depending on the species, exhaled air, with carbon dioxide as the most stimulating component, or particular skin emanations are registered. Long distance (up to 70 m) is achieved by odour cues, CO2 attracts over distances of about 20 m, and heat and humidity additionally cover a distance of 1-2 m. Besides CO2, many other chemicals have proven attractive potential. 

References

Introduction

Gordon RM, Lumsden WHR: A study of the behaviour of the mouthparts of mosquitoes when taking up blood from living tissue; together with some observations on the ingestion of microfilariae. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 1939, 33, 259-78  

Macdonald G: The epidemiology and control of malaria. 1957, Oxford University Press, London  

Mehlhorn H: Mosquitoes. In: Mehlhorn H (ed.): Encyclopaedic reference of parasitology. Biology, structure, function. 2nd edn., 2001, Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp. 378-84 

 

Seasonal and Circadian Dynamics 

Goma LKH: The mosquito. 1966, Hutchinson Tropical Monographs, Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) LTD, London 

 

Host Seeking Behaviour 

Mehlhorn H: Mosquitoes. In: Mehlhorn H (ed.): Encyclopaedic reference of parasitology. Biology, structure, function. 2nd edn., 2001, Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp. 378-84 

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