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Data from: Host associations of Culicoides biting midges in Northeastern Kansas, USA

posted on 2024-02-15, 16:56 authored by Bethany McgregorBethany Mcgregor, Aaron Lewis

Culicoides biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are hematophagous flies that transmit several viruses of veterinary concern to livestock. Understanding blood feeding behaviors is integral towards identification of putative vector species and preventing the transmission of these pathogens. PCR-based blood meal analysis was conducted on 440 blood-engorged Culicoides midges collected in northeastern Kansas, with 316 (71.8%) returning non-human vertebrate identifications at the ≥95% identity match level. Broadly, Culicoides sonorensis, Culicoides stellifer, and Culicoides variipennis were found to feed heavily on mammalian hosts, while Culicoides crepuscularis and Culicoides haematopotus fed on avian hosts. The blood meals in all specimens were graded prior to DNA extraction to determine whether blood meal size or digestion status significantly impacted the likelihood of a quality host match. Size had a significant impact on the likelihood of a quality match at grades 3–5, whereas digestion only significantly impacted outcomes at the most extreme grade. These vector–host dynamics have not previously been studied in Culicoides collected in Kansas, which represents a unique tallgrass prairie biome within the United States that is heavily interspersed with livestock operations. Based on these data, the highly abundant species C. crepuscularis and C. haematopotus are unlikely to be major vectors of mammalian viruses.


USDA-ARS: 3020-32000-018-00D


Data contact name

McGregor, Bethany L.

Data contact email


Ag Data Commons

Intended use

These data can be used to make inferences about the blood feeding habits of Culicoides midges collected in northeastern Kansas, USA. Five primary species in the dataset have adequate data to draw conclusions, including Culicoides crepuscularis, Culicoides haematopotus, Culicoides sonorensis, Culicoides stellifer, and Culicoides variipennis. Data on the size and digestion stage of each blood meal can also be used to evaluate the relative importance of both metrics in returning a successful identity match in Culicoides.

Use limitations

Numerous additional midge species that are known to occur in Kansas are not represented in this dataset or are not adequately represented to draw conclusions. The blood meal sources of midges in this study also reflect the local host community and may not represent feeding behaviors in other parts of the country or in other habitat types. Sanger sequencing was used in this study, so inferences cannot be made on the presence of multiple blood meals in single individuals. Furthermore, as the NCBI database continues to grow, the % identity match and query coverage of the study sequences may change.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • monthly


  • Not specified

Geographic location - description

Blood engorged midges were collected from two areas in northeastern Kansas. The first is the Kansas State University Animal Science Units in Manhattan, KS, including the Cow-Calf Unit, the Beef Stocker Unit, the Beef Cattle Research Center, the Dairy Teaching and Research Center, and the Sheep & Meat Goat Center. The second area is the Konza Prairie Biological Station south of Manhattan, KS. Traps were placed in the three main grazing treatments of the property, including the bison-grazed, cattle-grazed, and un-grazed watersheds. The lat-longs for the trapping sites used in this study are in the attached file, "BloodMealData_Coordinates.csv".

ISO Topic Category

  • biota
  • environment

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

Kansas; viruses; livestock; hematophagy; blood; disease transmission; pathogens; polymerase chain reaction; blood meal; midges; Culicoides sonorensis; Culicoides variipennis; mammals; hosts; birds; DNA; digestion; tallgrass prairies; ecosystems; data collection; habitats; databases

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 104

ARIS Log Number


Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

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