Host associations of biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae: Culicoides) at deer farms in Florida, USA

Kristin E. Sloyer, Carolina Acevedo, Samantha M. Wisely, Nathan D. Burkett-Cadena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Documenting the host use of vector species is important for understanding the transmission dynamics of vector-borne pathogens. Biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae: Culicoides) are vectors of epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) and bluetongue virus (BTV) worldwide. However, relative to mosquitoes and many other vector groups, host associations of this group are poorly documented. In this study, we used PCR-based bloodmeal analysis to determine species-level host associations of 3,603 blood-engorged specimens belonging to 18 Culicoides species at 8 deer farms in Florida, USA. We used a binomial mixed model with a Bayesian framework to compare the effect of host composition on the feeding patterns of Culicoides spp. and employed the Morisita-Horn Index to investigate the similarity of host use between farms for Culicoides stellifer and Culicoides insignis. Results show that the estimated probability of Culicoides spp. feeding upon white-tailed deer depends on the availability of cattle or exotic game and demonstrates differences in host-feeding selection among species. Culicoides insignis had high host similarity across farms suggesting that its host-use patterns are somewhat conserved. Culicoides stellifer had lower host similarity across farms suggesting that it is a more opportunistic feeder. White-tailed deer are fed upon by many Culicoides species on deer farms in Florida, and while most Culicoides species feed on white-tailed deer, the ratio of white-tailed deer bloodmeals to other bloodmeals is likely influenced by host availability. Culicoides spp. taking a majority of their bloodmeals from farmed white-tailed deer should be assessed for their vector competence for EHDV and BTV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-526
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Culicoides
  • Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus
  • biting midge
  • bluetongue virus
  • white-tailed deer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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