Identification of Uranotaenia sapphirina as a specialist of annelids broadens known mosquito host use patterns.
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Feeding upon vertebrate blood by mosquitoes permits transmission of diverse pathogens, including viruses, protozoa, and nematodes. Despite over a century of intensive study, no mosquito species is known to specialize on non-vertebrate hosts. Using molecular analyses and field observations, we provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, that a mosquito, Uranotaenia sapphirina, specializes on annelid hosts (earthworms and leeches) while its sympatric congener, Uranotaenia lowii, feeds only on anurans (frogs and toads). Our results demonstrate that Ur. sapphirina feeds on annelid hosts (100% of identified blood meals; n=72; collected throughout Florida), findings that are supported by field observations of these mosquitoes feeding on Sparganophilus worms and freshwater leeches. These findings indicate that adult mosquitoes utilize a much broader range of host taxa than previously recognized, with implications for epidemiology and the evolution of host use patterns in mosquitoes.