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Research Project: Biological Control and Integrated Management of Invasive Arthropod Pests from Europe, Asia, and Africa

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Title: The nutrient composition of three mosquito species, Aedes caspius, Anopheles hyrcanus and Culex pipiens, harvested from nature

item CHRISTAKI, ANDRONIKI - American Farm School
item ZINOVIADOU, KYRIAKI - American Farm School
item PAPOTI, VICTORIA - American Farm School
item MIAOULIS, MICHAEL - European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL)
item CHASKOPOULOU, ALEXANDRA - European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL)

Submitted to: Sustainability
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/19/2022
Publication Date: 10/25/2022
Citation: Christaki, A., Zinoviadou, K., Papoti, V., Miaoulis, M., Chaskopoulou, A. 2022. The nutrient composition of three mosquito species, Aedes caspius, Anopheles hyrcanus and Culex pipiens, harvested from nature. Sustainability. 14,13852.

Interpretive Summary: Insects, due to their high feed conversion efficiency, are receiving increased attention as an alternative protein source for animal livestock to mediate agriculture-induced climate change. Based on our study, wild-harvested, rice-land mosquitoes were superior to some of the most widely used edible insects and common feedstuff (fish meal, soybean meal). We, therefore propose, that harvesting nuisance and pathogen-transmitting insects directly from agricultural landscapes where they are naturally abundant, shall contribute to a more sustainable feed production with fewer GHG emissions while managing nuisance and disease-transmitting insect populations.

Technical Abstract: Increasing pressure on the world’s livestock production sector has stirred interest towards the exploration of insects as an alternative, nutritional feed source. We examined the potential of wild-caught mosquitoes, harvested from an intensive agricultural setting (rice-fields), to be utilized as poultry feed. Three mosquito species were identified in high abundance, namely Aedes caspius, Anopheles hyrcanus, and Culex pipiens and their nutritional and microbiological profile was assessed. Nutritional composition was determined based on total protein, crude fat, moisture and ash content, mineral profile analysis and antioxidant activity. The microbiological profile of each mosquito species was assessed by measuring the population of total viable bacteria (TVC), Enterobacteriaceae, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), and coagulase – positive Staphylococci. Obtained values were compared to common edible insects (Tenebrio molitor, Acheta domesticus, and Hermetia illucens) as well as conventional livestock feedstuff (soybean meal, fishmeal). Of the three mosquito species, An. hyrcanus had the highest protein content (61.8% dry weight basis (dwb) > Ae. caspius 56.8% > Cx. pipiens 55.6%) and the highest antioxidant potential (45.9%), Ae. caspius had the highest mineral content (12.9% dwb > An. hyrcanus 12.3% > Cx. pipiens 9.8%), and Cx. pipiens had the highest fat content (27.8% dwb > An. hyrcanus 19.9% > Ae. caspius 18.2%). All mosquito species were a rich source of minerals (containing high concentrations of minerals essential for poultry development). The presence of microorganisms was confirmed across all species, at levels comparable to fresh food harvested from soil and farmed edible insects. Mosquitoes harvested from rice-fields exhibited an overall highly nutritious profile, comparable and even superior to common feedstuff and edible insects, showing potential as poultry feed components. Additional studies are warranted to further assess the nutritional value and safety of mosquito-based diets from different environments and investigate their impact on poultry performance and meat characteristics.