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Mosquitoes are prone to dehydration and respond to this stress through multiple mechanisms, but previous studies have examined very specific responses and fail to provide an encompassing view of the role that dehydration has on mosquito biology. This study examined underlying changes in biology of the northern house mosquito, Culex pipiens, associated with short bouts of dehydration. We show that dehydration increased blood feeding propensity of mosquitoes, which was the result of both enhanced activity and a higher tendency to land on a host. Mosquitoes exposed to dehydrating conditions with access to water or rehydrated individuals experience no water loss and failed to display behavioral changes. RNA-seq and metabolome analyses following dehydration indicated that factors associated with energy metabolism are altered, specifically the breakdown of trehalose to yield glucose, which likely underlies changes in mosquito activity. Suppression of trehalose breakdown by RNA interference reduced phenotypes associated with dehydration. Comparable results were noted for two other mosquito species, suggesting this is a general response among mosquitoes. Lastly, field-based mesocosm studies using C. pipiens revealed that dehydrated mosquitoes were more likely to host feed, and disease modeling indicates dehydration bouts may increase transmission of West Nile virus. These results suggest that periods of dehydration prompt mosquitoes to utilize blood feeding as a mechanism to obtain water. This dehydration-induced increase in blood feeding is likely to intensify disease transmission during periods of low water availability. Keywords: blood feeding, dehydration, mosquitoes, landing activity.

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