© 2017 The Royal Entomological Society Several species of Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are vectors of pathogens, such as the bluetongue (BTV) and Schmallenberg (SBV) viruses, which cause important diseases in domestic and wild ruminants. As wild ruminants can contribute to overwintering and epizootics of both diseases, knowledge of the host-feeding behaviour of Culicoides in natural ecosystems is important to better understand their epidemiology. Blood-engorged Culicoides females trapped in natural areas inhabited by different wild ruminant species were genetically analysed to identify host species. The origin of bloodmeals was identified in 114 females of 14 species of Culicoides. A total of 104 (91.1%) Culicoides fed on mammals and 10 (8.9%) on birds. The most abundant host identified was red deer (66.7%), followed by humans (13%) and fallow deer (6.1%). Eleven of the 14 species of Culicoides fed exclusively on mammalian hosts. Among them, five are mammalophilic species considered to be important BTV and/or SBV vectors. The results of the present study confirm that Culicoides imicola, Culicoides obsoletus, Culicoides scoticus, Culicoides pulicaris and Culicoides punctatus fed on wild ruminants, and therefore support the hypothesis that these species can act as bridge vectors by facilitating the circulation of pathogens between wild and domestic ruminant communities.
- host preference
- wild ruminants