Spanish scientists conduct the most complete study to date of the feeding patterns of the tiger mosquito in Europe

Este estudio, publicado recientemente en la revista internacional Insects, fue realizado por investigadores de la Universidad de Granada, la Estación Biológica de Doñana y el Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red en Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP).

Investigadores de la Universidad de Granada (UGR), la Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC) y el Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red en Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP) han realizado el estudio más completo hasta la fecha sobre los patrones de alimentación del tigre mosquito (Aedes albopictus) y otras especies invasoras del mismo género en Europa. Los resultados del estudio se publicaron recientemente en la revista internacional Insects.

Esta investigación, que revisa todos los estudios publicados anteriormente sobre este tema, muestra que estas especies de mosquitos se alimentan de diferentes grupos de vertebrados, especialmente mamíferos, y los humanos también son huéspedes comunes. No es sorprendente que la sangre humana represente el 93% de las comidas sanguíneas de Aedes aegypti, el mosquito responsable de la fiebre amarilla.

Mosquitoes are one of the main groups of vector insects—that is, insects involved in the transmission of major pathogens that adversely affect people, livestock, and wildlife. As with other groups of animals, different species of invasive mosquitoes have become established in areas outside their original range. This is the case with different species of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, which are of particular importance from the public health perspective, due to their capacity to transmit pathogens that cause serious diseases.

“Thus, the appearance of these species can modify the local epidemiology of many pathogens in invaded areas, including pathogens that circulate naturally in the environment, or imported pathogens,” explains one of the authors of the work, Josué Martínez de la Puente, a researcher at the UGR’s Department of Parasitology.

So far, four invasive species of the Aedes genus have established populations in Europe, which include such relevant vector species as the tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.

Blood meals

To complete their life cycle and the development of their eggs, female mosquitoes require blood meals taken from different vertebrate hosts. In addition to causing discomfort, the bites they cause can transmit different pathogens. “Therefore, this blood-feeding behaviour represents a fundamental factor, the relevance of which needs to be studied to understand the epidemiology of different diseases. In this review article, we study the feeding patterns of those four invasive mosquitoes of the Aedes genus in Europe,” explains Martínez de la Puente.

The results show that these species of mosquitoes feed off different groups of vertebrates, especially mammals. Humans are common hosts for these mosquitoes, representing 93% of the blood meals of the Aedes aegypti species. In addition, mosquitoes are capable of feeding on the blood of other groups of vertebrates, including birds and even ectothermic animals (those whose body temperature changes in line with the temperature of the environment).

Given their capacity to transmit different pathogens and their feeding rates among humans, invasive mosquito species of the Aedes genus may have a significant impact on the transmission of these pathogens in urban and periurban areas, the authors conclude.

Full bibliographic information


Sonia Cebrián-Camisón, Josué Martínez-de la Puente, & Jordi Figuerola (2020) ‘A literature review of host feeding patterns of invasive Aedes mosquitoes in Europe’, Insects 11(12), 848. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11120848
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  • The tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Photo credit: Julia López

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