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Title: Morphometric identification, ecology and olfactory mediated sugar feeding behaviour of Culex pipiens s.s. and Culex torrentium mosquitoes of the north west Midlands of England
Author: Halfpenny, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 2606
Awarding Body: Staffordshire University
Current Institution: Staffordshire University
Date of Award: 2018
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Mosquito distribution data in the UK are patchy and much are too old to be useful to describe the current distribution. Compounding this, species that are particularly challenging to identify result in them often being collated as complexes rather than species. Within the Culex pipiens complex, members of which have demonstrated roles as vectors internationally, morphological discrimination between female Culex pipiens L. and Culex torrentium Martini cannot reliably be made without using molecular identification methods. This often results in species discrimination not being made. We also know relatively little about the sugar feeding preferences of these mosquito species, particularly in terms of males. Male mosquitoes are generally not considered as targets for control. However, recent research has demonstrated swarming male targeting strategies that show potential. Therefore, knowledge of these behaviours might lead to novel approaches for control interventions or improve the effectiveness of those in development. In this thesis, current mosquito distribution data were investigated and fieldwork conducted to add to new species presence data for North Staffordshire and environs. A recently published wing morphometric technique for the discrimination of Culex pipiens s.s. and Culex torrentium was tested for suitability for locally collected specimens, and subsequently optimised and semi‐automated using a new coded workflow. Behavioural assays were conducted to assay behaviour of male Culex pipiens s.s. and Culex torrentium to olfactory cues associated with sugar feeding from flowers of various species of Apiaceae. Subsequently, a synthetic chemical lure, derived from the odours of these flowers, was tested in the laboratory and the field. Fieldwork surveys collected eleven of the thirty‐four British mosquito species within the survey, adding eight more species to the local record. The wing morphometric approach for species discrimination, following optimisation, led to the development of a new computerised approach and workflow that demonstrated 84% accurate species identification. This technique represents a viable, cost effective identification method for those without access to molecular methods, subsequently leading to better data relating to their distributions. In behavioural assays, both Culex pipiens s.s. and Culex torrentium were shown to be attracted to Apiaceae flowers. However, there was no significant difference in preference to different flower species within the Apiaceae, nor between the two mosquito species. Following field and laboratory testing, the synthetic lures were found to have no significant influence on behaviour or detectable catch rate increase in traps in the field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available