Mosquito bloodmeal preferences in two zoological gardens in Germany
Because they provide a high density and diversity of vertebrate species, small water pools and shaded environments, zoological gardens offer ideal living conditions for numerous mosquito species. Depending on their host preferences and vector competencies, these species may be able to transmit pathogens between native and non‐adapted exotic blood host species, thereby causing morbidity and mortality among valuable zoo animals. To determine the extent to which native mosquito species feed on captive and wild animals, as well as on humans, in two German zoological gardens, mosquitoes were collected over two seasons by trapping and aspirating. A total of 405 blood‐fed specimens belonging to 16 mosquito taxa were collected. Genetic bloodmeal analysis revealed 56 host species, mainly representing mammals of the zoo animal population, including exotic species previously not known as blood hosts of the mosquito species collected. These results indicate opportunistic feeding patterns with low host‐specificity in the analysed mosquitoes, although these could be grouped, according to their bloodmeals, into ‘amphibian‐’, ‘non‐human mammal‐’ and ‘non‐human mammal and human‐’ feeding species. As the blood‐feeding preferences of vector‐competent mosquito species are major determinants of vector capacity, information on the blood‐feeding behaviour of mosquitoes in zoos is crucial to the success of targeted vector management.