Aedes albopictus host odor preference does not drive observed variation in feeding patterns across field populations.
Laboratory and field-based studies of the invasive mosquito Aedes albopictus demonstrate its competency to transmit over twenty different pathogens linked to a broad range of vertebrate hosts. The vectorial capacity of Ae. albopictus to transmit these pathogens remains unclear, partly due to knowledge gaps regarding its feeding behavior. Blood meal analyses from field-captured specimens have shown vastly different feeding patterns, with a wide range of anthropophagy (human feeding) and host diversity. To address this knowledge gap, we asked whether differences in innate host preference may drive observed variation in Ae. albopictus feeding patterns in nature. Low generation colonies (F2-F4) were established with field-collected mosquitoes from three populations with high reported anthropophagy (Thailand, Cameroon, and Florida, USA) and three populations in the United States with low reported anthropophagy (New York, Maryland, and Virginia). The preference of these Ae. albopictus colonies for human versus non-human animal odor was assessed in a dual-port olfactometer along with control Ae. aegypti colonies already known to show divergent behavior in this assay. All Ae. albopictus colonies were less likely (p < 0.05) to choose the human-baited port than the anthropophilic Ae. aegypti control, instead behaving similarly to zoophilic Ae. aegypti. Our results suggest that variation in reported Ae. albopictus feeding patterns are not driven by differences in innate host preference, but may result from differences in host availability. This work is the first to compare Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti host preference directly and provides insight into differential vectorial capacity and human feeding risk.