, Volume 105, Issue 2, pp 373-380
Date: 24 Mar 2009

Feeding patterns of biting midges of the Culicoides obsoletus and Culicoides pulicaris groups on selected farms in Brandenburg, Germany

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Host feeding patterns of engorged sibling species of the Culicoides obsoletus and Culicoides pulicaris groups captured during three nights on two selected farms maintaining either cattle, sheep, horses, and pigs (Seedorf, Brandenburg) or cattle, sheep, moufflons, and red and fallow deer (Paulinenaue, Brandenburg) were determined by polymerase chain reaction amplification using conserved primers and sets of species-specific primers derived from vertebrates mitochondrial cytochrome b. Out of a total of 177 blood meals analysed, 115 (65%) tested positive for a blood meal from vertebrates. 63.5% (n = 73) of the cyt b positive specimens could be further assigned down to the species level. Cattle appeared to be the most attractive hosts for Palaearctic biting midges (79.5%, n = 58) even if other large vertebrates were kept in their immediate vicinity. If pigs or horses were additionally maintained on a farm, they were likewise attacked by biting midges but at a distinctly smaller rate than cattle (pigs 13.7%, horses 2.7%). In this study, game animals appear to be less attractive than cattle since only a few engorged midges had taken a blood meal from red deer (4.1%). None of the blood meals analysed tested positive for sheep. Preliminary results reveal that biting midges of the C. pulicaris and C. obsoletus groups can feed on a range of vertebrate hosts but with a distinct preference for cattle even if other livestock are maintained in adjacent areas.