In mosquitoes, the intradermal search for vertebrate blood (probing time) corresponds to the time taken from initial insertion of the mouthparts in the skin until visualization of the initial engorgement of blood in the midgut. Probing time evaluation provides useful information on the ability of a mosquito to initiate successful blood feeding. In this protocol, we describe how to determine feeding parameters in Aedes aegypti, a widely distributed mosquito that transmits several deadly pathogens, including yellow fever, dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya viruses. We focus on the different steps of a blood feeding event, including penetration, probing, interprobing, and feeding time. Penetration time corresponds to the insertion of the stylets into the host skin and usually lasts <10 sec. Probing time or intradermal search for blood involves saliva secretion into the skin. Some researchers group penetration and probing time as the exploratory phase for blood. Feeding time is an active phase of blood ingestion and engorgement. Feeding parameters depend on mosquito behaviors and these measurements are visually taken by the investigator. We include a video that provides a close look at a mosquito feeding event in which penetration, probing, and feeding times can be observed. To record these experimental times, one must closely watch the mosquito feeding behavior including stylet penetration in the host skin, visualization of the first traces of blood in the midgut, engorgement of the midgut, and removal of stylets from the skin.
This is a work of the US government.