Factors Influencing Sugar Feeding in Invasive Mosquitoes
Phytophagy (i.e., feeding on plant-derived materials) is an essential component of mosquito biology. Yet, it has been historically neglected as most research effort has been concentrated on host-seeking behavior and pathogen transmission. As mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on earth and because challenges, such as the rise of insecticide resistance, arise, there is an urgent need for developing effective and ecologically friendly disease vector control strategies. It is therefore important to deepen our understanding of mosquito phytophagy and, consequently, its potential to develop novel vector control methods. Particular major disease vectors are Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus, which are spreading rapidly through the US, in part due to climate change. Herein, we first examine the effect of temperature on Ae. aegypti sugar-feeding behavior as well as overall locomotive activity and survival, using total carbohydrate assays and actometer experiments. An optimum temperature range for mosquito activity is proposed and discussed in the context of global warming. We then observe the tentative benefit provided by city-planted ornamental flowers to Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus living in heavily-populated, urban areas. Mosquito sugar-feeding activity and, subsequently, sugar consumption were tested for eleven commonly-planted ornamentals. Additionally, scents were collected from the headspace of each ornamental, and volatile composition was analyzed and discussed as potential cues that could mediate mosquito-plant interactions.