Influence of dietary nutrients on life history-related traits of black flies and mosquitoes
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The sugar-feeding ecology of dipteran vectors has recently been targeted because it presents opportunities to inoculate common food sources for these dipterans with entomopathogenic bacteria as a means of controlling the population of host-seeking adult dipteran vectors. Whereas this approach to vector control holds some promise, differences in the nutrient composition and concentration in sugary food sources can influence the food selection pattern of dipteran vectors and potentially confound the outcomes of field trials on the efficacy of entomopathogenic bacteria as vector control agents. Further, nutrient components of bacteria-inoculated artificial diets may present unintended effects of extending the survivorship or fecundity of the target population and potentially render the whole approach counterproductive. The present study investigated the diet-specific factors that influence the foraging decisions of female Simulium venustum/verecundum (Diptera: Simuliidae) and female Anopheles stephensi (Diptera: Culicidae) on artificial nectar and honeydew. Paired choice experiments showed that the black flies forage more frequently from high calorie diets, which contained melezitose, or those diets that contained amino acids, compared to low calorie melezitose-free diets or amino acid-free diets. The mosquitoes however displayed a more random diet selection pattern. The effects of sugary diets on certain life-history traits considered to be important to the ecological fitness of the black flies and mosquitoes were also investigated. Sugary diets had no significant effect on the survivorship and fecundity of the black flies, but they influenced the resistance of Leucocytozoon-infected flies to the parasite. Amino acid-containing diets appeared to extend the survival of mosquitoes, and also allowed them to take more vertebrate blood when they blood fed.