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J Med Entomol. 2008 Mar;45(2):276-88.

Host-seeking heights, host-seeking activity patterns, and West Nile virus infection rates for members of the Culex pipiens complex at different habitat types within the hybrid zone, Shelby County, TN, 2002 (Diptera: Culicidae).

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, P.O. Box 2087, Fort Collins, CO 80522, USA.


Host-seeking heights, host-seeking activity patterns, and West Nile virus (family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus, WNV) infection rates were assessed for members of the Culex pipiens complex from July to December 2002, by using chicken-baited can traps (CT) at four ecologically different sites in Shelby County, TN. Host-seeking height was assessed by CT placed at elevations of 3.1, 4.6, and 7.6 m during one 24-h period per month. Host-seeking activity was assessed by paired CT placed at an elevation of 4.6 m. Can traps were sampled at one 10-h daytime interval and at seven 2-h intervals during the evening, night, and morning. Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes accounted for 87.1% of collected mosquitoes. Culex (Melanoconion) erraticus (Dyar & Knab) accounted for 11.9% of specimens. The average number of Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes collected per 24-h CT period from July to September was lowest at a rural middle income site (1.7), intermediate at an urban middle income site (11.3), and highest at an urban low income site (47.4). Can traps at the forested site failed to collect Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes. From July to September at urban sites, Culex pipiens pipiens L. was the rarest of the three complex members accounting for 11.1-25.6% of specimens. At the rural site, Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus Say was the rarest member of the complex. Cx. p. pipiens was not collected after September. Mean abundance of Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes was higher in traps at 7.6 m than in traps at 4.6 m. Abundances at 3.1 m were intermediate and not significantly different from abundances at the other heights. Initiation of host-seeking activity was associated with the end of civil twilight and activity occurred over an extended nighttime period lasting 8-10 h. All 11 WNV-positive mosquitoes were Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes collected from urban sites in traps placed at elevations of 4.6 and 7.6 m. Infection rates were marginally nonsignificant by height. Infection rates, host-seeking heights, and activity patterns were not significantly different among members of the Cx. pipiens complex.

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