Culturing Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes with a blood substitute diet for the females



Abstract. The tropical house mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus was cultured by feeding the females on an artificial diet, not on live animals or whole blood. This anautogenous strain has been maintained for more than fifty generations. The blood replacement diet for female mosquitoes, designed to simulate the tonicity and density of host blood, was based on ovalbumin, soya infant formula, globulins and adenosine triphosphate.

Female adults of Cx quinquefasciatus were fed the artificial blood formula from ‘Parafilm’ wax membrane-covered beakers. The diet was heated by radiant heat from a chamber containing an exothermic chemical reaction. This maintained the diet at a temperature of 33–37d̀C for a period of up to 6 h, sufficient time to enable all the female mosquitoes to imbibe to satiation. After six generations on the artificial diet, female fecundity stabilized to a satisfactory level: the number of eggs per gonotrophic cycle averaged c. 85% of the ‘control’ strain fed on whole blood from live anaesthetized guinea-pigs, i.e. 156 eggs per female from nine feeds on the artificial diet compared with 183 from six feeds of whole blood. Adult weight of Cx quinquefasciatus females was not significantly different, from generation 6 onwards, for strains fed on artificial diet or whole blood. Sex ratio and the rate of egg viability were also equivalent for the two strains.