How often do mosquitoes bite humans in southern England?: a standardised summer trial at four sites reveals spatial, temporal and site-related variation in biting rates

Brugman, Victor A. and England, Marion E. and Stoner, Joanne and Tugwell, Laura and Harrup, Lara E. and Wilson, Anthony J. and Medlock, Jolyon M. and Logan, James G. and Fooks, Anthony R. and Mertens, Peter P.C. and Johnson, Nicholas and Carpenter, Simon (2017) How often do mosquitoes bite humans in southern England?: a standardised summer trial at four sites reveals spatial, temporal and site-related variation in biting rates. Parasites & Vectors, 10 (1). 420/1-420/11. ISSN 1756-3305

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Abstract

Background

This field-based study examined the abundance and species complement of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) attracted to humans at four sites in the United Kingdom (UK). The study used a systematic approach to directly measure feeding by mosquitoes on humans at multiple sites and using multiple volunteers. Quantifying how frequently humans are bitten in the field by mosquitoes is a fundamental parameter in assessing arthropod-borne virus transmission.

Methods

Human landing catches were conducted using a standardised protocol by multiple volunteers at four rural sites between July and August 2013. Collections commenced two hours prior to sunset and lasted for a total of four hours. To reduce bias occurring due to collection point or to the individual attractiveness of the volunteer to mosquitoes, each collection was divided into eight collection periods, with volunteers rotated by randomised Latin square design between four sampling points per site. While the aim was to collect mosquitoes prior to feeding, the source of blood meals from any engorged specimens was also identified by DNA barcoding.

Results

Three of the four sites yielded human-biting mosquito populations for a total of 915 mosquitoes of fifteen species/species groups. Mosquito species composition and biting rates differed significantly between sites, with individual volunteers collecting between 0 and 89 mosquitoes (over 200 per hour) of up to six species per collection period. Coquillettidia richiardii (Ficalbi, 1889) was responsible for the highest recorded biting rates at any one site, reaching 161 bites per hour, whilst maximum biting rates of 55 bites per hour were recorded for Culex modestus (Ficalbi, 1889). Human-biting by Culex pipiens (L., 1758) form pipiens was also observed at two sites, but at much lower rates when compared to other species.

Conclusions

Several mosquito species are responsible for human nuisance biting pressure in southern England, although human exposure to biting may be largely limited to evening outdoor activities. This study indicates Cx. modestus can be a major human-biting species in the UK whilst Cx. pipiens f. pipiens may show greater opportunistic human-biting than indicated by earlier studies.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Mosquito, Biting rate, Human landing catch, Culex, Coquillettidia, Blood meal
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Veterinary Medicine and Science
Identification Number: 10.1186/s13071-017-2360-9
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2017 10:13
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 08:41
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/46471

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