, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 543–554 | Cite as

Using Bloodmeal Analysis to Assess Disease Risk to Wildlife at the New Northern Limit of a Mosquito Species

  • Andrea Egizi
  • Ellen S. Martinsen
  • Holly Vuong
  • Kelly I. Zimmerman
  • Ary Faraji
  • Dina M. FonsecaEmail author
Original Contribution


The historically southeastern mosquito species Culex erraticus has over the last 30 years undergone a marked expansion north. We evaluated this species’ potential to participate in local disease cycles in the northeastern USA by identifying the vertebrate sources of blood in Cx. erraticus specimens from New Jersey. We found that the majority of bloodmeals (92.6%) were derived from birds, followed by 6.8% from mammals (of which half were human), and a single amphibian bloodmeal from a spring peeper (0.56%). Medium- and large-sized water birds from the order Pelecaniformes made up 60.4% of the bird species and 55.9% of all identified hosts. This group of birds is known enzootic hosts of arboviruses such as eastern equine encephalitis virus, for which Cx. erraticus is a competent vector. Additionally, we screened blooded mosquitoes for avian malaria parasites and identified three different lineages of Plasmodium, including what may represent a new Plasmodium species (likely a wetland bird specialist) in bloodmeals from Green Herons, a Great Egret, and a Double-Crested Cormorant. Our results support the utility of mosquito bloodmeals as sources of information about circulating wildlife pathogens and reveal the potential of range-expanding species to intensify local zoonoses and bridge enzootic pathogens to humans.


Pelecaniformes Eastern equine encephalitis virus Xenosurveillance Plasmodium Climate change 



We are indebted to the dedicated staff of Atlantic County Mosquito Control, Cape May Mosquito Control, Mercer County Mosquito Control, and Salem County Mosquito Control for assistance with blooded mosquito collections. We also thank Prof. Robert Ricklefs for information on primers to ID and sequence bird Plasmodium; Chenoa de Freece for laboratory work and Dr. Lisa Reed for maintaining the Center for Vector Biology’s vector surveillance reports possible by data provided weekly by the 21 NJ mosquito control programs and funded by the NJ State Mosquito Control Commission.


This research was supported by Multistate NE-1043 to DMF.


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Copyright information

© EcoHealth Alliance 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Egizi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ellen S. Martinsen
    • 3
  • Holly Vuong
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kelly I. Zimmerman
    • 1
    • 5
  • Ary Faraji
    • 1
    • 6
  • Dina M. Fonseca
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for Vector Biology, Department of EntomologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Tick-Borne Disease LaboratoryMonmouth County Mosquito Control DivisionTinton FallsUSA
  3. 3.Center for Conservation GenomicsSmithsonian Conservation Biology InstituteWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.National Youth Science ForumActonAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Earth and Environmental StudiesMontclair State UniversityMontclairUSA
  6. 6.Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement DistrictSalt Lake CityUSA

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