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Overview of our research program

Our lab focuses on studying the thermal biology, eco-physiology and neuro-ethology of disease vector insects and ticks. We rely on a collaborative, multidisciplinary and integrative approach, combining field work, behavioral analyses, molecular biology, chemical ecology and electrophysiology. The results from these projects help to get a better understanding of the disease vectors’ biology, and will lay the groundwork for the development of new tools to control their populations.

On-going work

Sugar feeding play a major role in the mosquito life. It is the sole source of source for males and an important one for females which require blood to produce progeny but also need sugar to survive. Mosquito phytophagy has been historically neglected in Science. Because pathogens are transmitted to humans during blood-feeding, most of the research effort has been towards deciphering vector-host-pathogen interactions.  

We focus on diverse aspects of sugar feeding in mosquitoes, from studying the ornemental and wild flowers that attract mosquitoes to understanding their role as pollinators, to using this new knowledge for developing new baits (e.g., ATSB) and traps for mosquito control. 


Recent papers: 

  • Upshur F.I.**, Fehlman M., Pariskh V. and C. Lahondère. (2023). Sugar feeding by invasive mosquito species on ornamental and wild plants. Scientific Reports.

  • Wangrawa D.W., Ochomo E., Upshur F.**, Zanré N., Borovsky D., Lahondère C., Vinauger C., Badolo A. and A. Sanon. (2022). Essential oils and their binary combinations have synergistic and antagonistic insecticidal properties against Anopheles gambiae s. l. (Diptera: Culicidae). Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology, 42(102347).

  • Fryzlewicz L.**, VanWinkle A.* and C. Lahondère. (2021). Developement of an attractive toxic sugar bait for the control of Aedes. j. japonicusJournal of Medical Entomology. 

  • Lahondère C., C. Vinauger, R.P. Okubo, G. Wolff, O.S. Akbari, J.A. Riffell (2020). The olfactory basis of orchid pollination by mosquitoes. PNAS.

  • Upshur I.F.**, Bose E.A*, Hart C.* and C. Lahondère. (2019). Temperature and sugar feeding effects on the activity of a laboratory strain of Aedes aegyptiInsects, 10(10): 347.



Physical parameters such as temperature, precipitation, and time of the day and year directly affect the biology of mosquitoes and it is the complex interplay of these factors that determines the overall effect of climate on local mosquito populations. Considering ongoing climate change, frequent dramatic weather events, and the ability of mosquito species to invade new areas, it is essential to define the link between climatic changes and the response of mosquito populations.


We work on mosquito populations in Virginia as well as mechanisms underlying thermal adaptation in invasive mosquito species. We particularly focus on Aedes albopictus and Ae. (Oc.) japonicus

Current collaborators:  Dr. Luis Escobar (VT Wildlife and Fisheries), Dr. Karen Kovaka (VT Philosophy), Dr. Clément Vinauger (VT Biochemistry), Dr. David Schmale (VT SPES), Dr. Sally Paulson (VT Entomology), Dr. Jonathan Auguste (VT Entomology), Dr. Don Mullins (VT Entomology),  Dr. Mariangela Bonizzoni (Univeristy of Pavia, Italy)

Recent papers: 

  • Lahondère C. and M. Bonizzoni. Thermal biology of invasive Aedes mosquitoes in the context of climate change. (2022). Current Opinion in Insect Science.

  • Chandrasegaran K., Lahondère C., Escobar L.E. and Vinauger C. (2020). Mosquito ecology, behavior, and disease transmission. Trends in Parasitology. 36(4): 393-403.

  • Reinhold J.M.**, Lazzari C.R. and Lahondère C. (2018) Effects of the Environmental Temperature on Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus Mosquitoes: A Review. Insects, 9(4), 158; doi: 10.3390/insects9040158. 



We are screening mosquitoes collected in the New River Valley for various pathogens including West Nile virus, La Crosse virus as well as ranaviruses and trypanosomes. 

Current collaborators:  Dr. Jonathan Auguste (VT Entomology), Dr. Gillian Eastwood (VT Entomology), Dr. Sally Paulson (VT Entomology), Dr. James Weger-Lucarelli (VT Vet Med)

Recent papers


Mosquitoes feed on a wide range of hosts, including warm blooded animals such as mammals and birds and cold-blooded animals such as frogs, snakes and annelids. To locate a warm-blooded host to feed on, mosquitoes use visual, thermal, olfactory and mechanical cues. If our knowledge on endotherms-mosquito interactions is quite extensive, comparatively less is known regarding cold-blooded hosts-mosquito interactions. 

Focusing on Culex territans mosquitoes, we aim at answering the following questions: What cues are these mosquitoes using to detect their cold-blooded hosts? How did they evolve feeding on cold-blooded hosts? How do they feed on cold and viscous blood? What pathogens are they vectoring? We conduct this work at Mountain Lake Biological Station (UVA, VA).


Current collaborators:  Dr. David McLeod (UVA, VA), Dr. Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz (CEE, VT), Dr. Cameron Siler (OU, OK), Dr. Jonathan Auguste (VT Entomology)

Recent papers: 

  • Reinhold J.**, Halbert E.*, Roark M.*, Sierra Smith**, Stroh K.M., Siler C.D., McLeod D.S. and Lahondère C. (2023). The role of Culex territans mosquitoes in the transmission of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to amphibian hosts. Parasites and Vectors. 

  • Reinhold J.M.**#, Chandrasegaran K.#, Oker H.M.*#, Crespo J.E., Vinauger C. and C. Lahondère. (2022). Species-specificity in thermopreference and CO2-gated heat-seeking in Culex mosquitoes. Insects. (# Equal contribution).



In their environment, insects are submitted to thermal fluctuations and have developed a suite of responses, both physiological and behavioral, to minimize the deleterious consequences that high temperature might cause. Some species even actively regulate their internal temperature independently of the environmental temperature (i.e. thermoregulation). If these insects can overcome the thermal constraints imposed by their environment, those that feed on warm-blooded vertebrate hosts have no choice but to experience a thermal stress at each feeding event.

We are studying how blood-sucking arthropods including mosquitoes, kissing bugs, tsetse flies and ticks deal with the ingestion of a hot blood meal. In particular, we are interested in understanding the physiological, behavioral and molecular adaptations that have evolved to withstand heat stress during blood-feeding. We are also interested in mechanisms of thermal adaptation in mosquitoes.   

Current collaborators:  Dr. Claudio Lazzari (IRBI, CNRS, France), Dr. Mariangela Bonizzoni (Univeristy of Pavia, Italy), Dr. Joshua Benoit (University of Cincinnati)

Recent papers

  • Lahondère C. (2023). Recent advances in insect thermoregulation. Journal of Experimental Biology. 226 (18): jeb245751.

  • Benoit J.B., Lahondère C., Attardo G.M., Michalkova V., Oyen K., Xiao Y. and S. Aksoy. (2022). Warm blood meal increases digestion and milk protein production to maximize reproductive output for the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans. Insects. Insects. 13(11):997.

  • Lazzari C.R., Fauquet A.**, Lahondère C., Pereira M.H. and R. Araujo. (2021). Soft ticks perform evaporative cooling during blood-feeding. Journal of Insect Physiology. 130(104197).

  • Benoit J.B., Lazzari C.R., Denlinger D.L. and C. Lahondère. (2019). Thermoprotective adaptations are critical for arthropods feeding on warm-blooded hosts. Current Opinion in Insect Science. (34):7-11.

  • Lazzari C.R., Fauquet A.** and Lahondère C. (2018). Keeping cool: kissing bugs avoid cannibalism thermoregulating. Journal of Insect Physiology. (107):29–33.

  • Lahondère C., Insausti T., Paim RMM, Luan X., Belev G., Pereira M.H., Ianowski J.P. and C.R. Lazzari (2017). Countercurrent heat exchange and thermoregulation during blood-feeding in kissing bugs. eLife. 2017; 6:e26107.

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