What do mosquitoes eat?

Kenneth W. Blank KWBLAN00 at ukcc.uky.edu
Fri Jan 13 20:15:07 EST 1995


In article <3eu3eb$cjn at lastactionhero.rs.itd.umich.edu>
Steve Meshnick <meshnick at sph.umich.edu> writes:
 
>                 Here is a general answer to the question:
>     Only female mosquitoes take blood meals.  Males never do.  Males eat
>plant materials such as nectar.  Females do as well.   Females are
>supposed to take blood meals only at a certain point in their lifecycle,
>when they are a few days away from laying their eggs (and the blood
>provides iron for the eggs.)
>           Now I'd like to ask a related question.  Does anyone know exactly
>what plant materials each of the Anopheline vectors eat (i.e., A.
>gambiae)?  I should think this would be important and it might provide
>clues for: 1) trapping mosquitoes and 2) site-specific insecticide
>application.  I was told by a botanist once that the mosquito proboscis
>is adapted to sucking from xylem and phloem (as well as capillaries).
>        Steve Meshnick
 
 Dear Steve,
      I am not a mosquito physiologist or taxonomist, but I have been working
with mosquitoes for the last five years.  I have several colonies going at all
times and I have found that they (mosquitoes, both male and female) are
generalist feeders.  I place a 10% honey solution or a 10% sucrose solution
in the cages and they do just fine.  I can not say for certainty, but I do not
know if anyone knows for certain what plants they feed on, but mosquitoes do a
lot of pollination of smaller flowers, which indicates a generalist feeder.  If
 you find any articles that state specific plants for specific mosquitoes, I
would like to know where you found the reference.
      Just a clarification about the female blood meal, I am almost possitive
that the important component from the blood meal is the protein, not the iron.
There is a genus of mosquitoes that never takes a blood meal because they build
 up enough protein during the larval stage due to their predacous life style
(Toxorhyncities).
      I hope this helps.
 
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KENNETH W. BLANK
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY                           PHONE 606-257-7470
DEPARTMENT OF ENTOMOLOGY                         E-MAIL KWBLAN00 at UKCC.UKY.EDU
S-225 AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE BLDG--NORTH
LEXINGTON, KY 40546-0091
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