Bloodmeal, Host Selection, and Genetic Admixture Analyses of Culex pipiens Complex (Diptera: Culicidae) Mosquitoes in Chicago, IL

J Med Entomol. 2020 Jan 9;57(1):78-87. doi: 10.1093/jme/tjz158.


The area in and around Chicago, IL, is a hotspot of West Nile virus activity. The discovery of a Culex pipiens form molestus Forskӓl population in Chicago in 2009 added to speculation that offspring from hybridization between Cx. pipiens f. pipiens L. and f. molestus could show a preference for feeding on humans. We collected blood-fed female mosquitoes (N = 1,023) from eight residential sites and one public park site in Chicago in July and August 2012. Bloodmeal analysis using the COI (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) gene was performed to ascertain host choice. Almost all (99%) bloodmeals came from birds, with American Robins (Turdus migratorius L.) and House Sparrows (Passer domesticus L.) making up the largest percentage (74% combined). A forage ratio analysis comparing bird species fed upon and available bird species based on point count surveys indicated Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) and American Robins (Turdus migratorius) appeared to be over-utilized, whereas several species were under-utilized. Two human bloodmeals came from Culex pipiens complex mosquitoes. Admixture and population genetic analyses were conducted with 15 microsatellite loci on head and thorax DNA from the collected blood-fed mosquitoes. A modest amount of hybridization was detected between Cx. pipiens f. pipiens and f. molestus, as well as between f. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus Say. Several pure Cx. quinquefasciatus individuals were noted at the two Trumbull Park sites. Our data suggest that Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes in the Chicago area are not highly introgressed with f. molestus and appear to utilize avian hosts.

Keywords: Culex pipiens complex; Culex pipiens form molestus; West Nile virus; bloodmeal analysis; microsatellite analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chicago
  • Culex / genetics
  • Culex / physiology*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / analysis
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Food Chain
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Insect Proteins / analysis
  • Mosquito Vectors / genetics
  • Mosquito Vectors / physiology*
  • Songbirds


  • Insect Proteins
  • Electron Transport Complex IV