Foxi, Cipriano and Delrio, Gavino (2010) Larval habitats and seasonal abundance of Culicoides biting midges found in association with sheep in northern Sardinia, Italy. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, Vol. 24 (2), p. 199-209. eISSN 1365-2915. Article.
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Between January 2005 and December 2006, the larval habitats and seasonal abundances of 21 species of Culicoides(Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) found in association with livestock on a farm in northern Sardinia were studied. Culicoides were collected using two light traps (one placed in a sheep shed and the other near water ponds) and reared from mud collected in and along the margins of a small and a large water pond. The mammalophilic Culicoides imicola Kieffer and Culicoides newsteadi Austen were the most prevalent (>95%) of 20 species in the sheep shed, whereas the ornithophilic Culicoides univittatus Vimmer, Culicoides sahariensis Kieffer, Culicoides festivipennis Kieffer, Culicoides circumscriptus Kieffer and Culicoides cataneii Clastrier were most abundant in the traps set at the ponds (73%) and in 16 species of Culicoides reared from laboratory-maintained mud samples retrieved from three microhabitats (a non-vegetated pond shoreline, 20 cm above a pond shoreline, the shoreline of a secondary, permanently inundated, grasscovered pool). The species reared most abundantly from along the pond shoreline were C. festivipennis, C. circumscriptus and C. sahariensis, whereas those most prevalent at the grassed pool were C. cataneii and C. festivipennis. C. imicola was found to breed preferentially in mud 20 cm above the pond shoreline, whereas C. newsteadi was restricted almost entirely to the grassed pool, which had a high organic matter content. Using the light trap and adult emergence data, the seasonal abundance patterns of the eight species of Culicoides were determined. In general, there was good correspondence between light trap catches and emergence trends. Well-defined emergence peaks indicate four or five generations for C. festivipennis and C. circumscriptus and three generations for C. cataneii, C. newsteadi and Culicoides jumineri Callot & Kremer. The emergence trends for C. imicola and C. sahariensis were unimodal, but, because they stretched over several months, indicated that a number of overlapping generations had occurred. Adults of C. imicola were reared and captured only sporadically in the first half of the year, gradually building to a peak in autumn. Conversely, C. newsteadi was reared throughout the year and displayed three clearly defined peaks (in winter, spring and autumn); captures of C. newsteadi in the light traps peaked in May–June and again to a lesser extent in autumn. In Sardinia the late seasonal peak in the abundance of C. imicola occurs in synchrony with outbreaks of bluetongue (BT) in sheep, which is consistent with earlier findings elsewhere in the Mediterranean basin and in Africa that it is the principal vector of bluetongue virus (BTV). Although the status of C. newsteadi as a vector of BTV is not known, its low-level presence in winter and heightened abundances in spring may provide a pathway along which the virus can overwinter.
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