Landscape affects the host-seeking patterns of Culex tarsalis (Diptera: Culicidae) in the Coachella Valley of California

Hugh D. Lothrop, William Reisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Effective arbovirus transmission requires that the principal vertebrate hosts and vectors have frequent contact. Vegetation and other landscape features used by roosting or nesting birds at night dictate their exposure to nocturnally active host-seeking Culex tarsalis Coquillett and therefore to western equine encephalomyelitis and St. Louis encephalitis viruses. Precipitin tests on 645 Cx. tarsalis that were collected resting and host-seeking near the Salton Sea in Coachella Valley, CA, indicated that passeriform birds (64%) and rabbits (25%) were the most frequent bloodmeal hosts and that the percentage of females feeding on birds varied temporally as an inverse function of mosquito abundance. Blood meals were not taken from communally roosting water birds. The spatial distribution of host-seeking females then was investigated by deploying dry ice baited traps within seven sites representative of habitats found along the Salton Sea. Mosquito catch was greatest at traps within elevated vegetation such as Tamarisk, mesquite, cattails, and orchards and lowest at traps positioned at snags over water, sand bars, open fields, and within housing in a small rural community. These data indicate that host-seeking Cx. tarsalis females congregated at specific landscape features that were not necessarily associated with large concentrations of potential bloodmeal hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-332
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Avian hosts
  • Bloodmeal identification
  • Culex tarsalis
  • Host-seeking behavior
  • Virus transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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