viernes, 22 de abril de 2011

Revision of Diptera: Culicidae

Name-Bearing Type:
Culex Linnaeus, 1758. [Culiciformes Meigen, 1818 is the earliest family-group name that established the date of priority for Culicidae.



Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) are holometabolous insects with thin bodied, frail and long legs. Culicidae are easily recognised by their long proboscis and the presence of scales on most parts of the body. Larvae are distinguished from other aquatic insects by the absence of legs, the presence of a distinct head bearing mouth brushes and antennae, a bulbous thorax that is wider than the head and abdomen, posterior anal papillae and they breathe through a pair of respiratory openings, spiracles (subfamily Anophelinae) or an elongate respiratory siphon (subfamily Culicinae) borne near the end of the abdomen. Mosquitoes are usually, and most reliably, identified as final (fourth) instar larvae and adults (source:

Diagnostic Features:
Antennae are long, mouthparts (proboscis) are long and slender, and they have scales in wing veins and wing margins.

Taxonomic characters
Based on Gonzalez et. al, (2008) and INBio´s Key
  • Adult female
-Length of maxillary palpi with reference to the proboscis
- Banding patterns or spots in the posterior tarsomeres
- Banding patterns on the scutum
-presence/absence of Post-spiracular bristles
- thoracic pleurae scales
- clipping scales
- scutum scales
- Occipucio
- Banding patterns on tibia
  • Larvae
- Respiratory siphon
- number of pairs of bristles 1-S
- Arrangement and number of comb teeth
- Sharpening in the bristle I

Classification and composition:

Taxonomic Category

Scientific Name









The family Culicidae (Diptera: nematicidera) includes bewteen 3 507 species worldwide (WRBU 2009) and 3530 species worldwide classified in two subfamilies and 113 genera (Harbach, 2011). The subfamily Anophelinae has three genera and Culicinae has 110 genera segregated into 11 tribes. (source:

Harbach and Kitching, 1998

see more about clasification about family Culicidae in:


  • Global distribution
They inhabit almost every region of the world except the Antarctic, throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world, from Arctic tundra, boreal forest, high mountains, plains, deserts, rainforests, etc. Mosquitoes are most diverse in tropical forest environments (Harbach, 2011 Source: Mosquito taxonomic inventory).
  • Culicidae in Colombia
Although there is not recent works on the biodiversity of culicidae in the country and the available information is outdated, the genera reported include specially hematophaqous forest mosquitoes: Mansonia, Sabethes Psorophora, Haemagogus, Wyeomyia, Culex, Anopheles and Aedes.
Source: Duefias et. al, 1957 ; Barreto, 1955

Life History:

  • Habitat:
- Immature stages (larvae and pupa): aquatic environments

- Adults: Places with hight humidity . Many species live within a few meters of the ground, whereas many forest species occur primarily in the forest canopy. Vertical distribution is largely dependent on feeding preferences. All males and the females of many species feed exclusively on plant liquids, including nectar, honeydew, fruit juices and exudates. Females of a great number of species feed on the blood of living animals (Warm or cold blooded vertebrates) including nymphal cicadas, lepidopterous larvae and mantids.
  • Oviposition:
In general, they can be categorized as preferring permanent water (e.g., marshes, stream, ponds) or temporary water sources (e.g., pools from melting snow, ditches, tree holes, containers) (Capinera, 2010).
  • Life cycle:
Culicidae are insects with aquatic immature stages, larvae (wigglers or wrigglers) and pupae, (tumblers). Larvae possess a number of body hairs, especially in the thoracic and anal regions and they feed on organic matter and small organisms. The pupal stage does not feed but remains active. The larvae and pupae of many species obtain oxygen from the water surface, and both stages may have special structures for this purpose, called the respiratory siphon in the larval stage and respiratory trumpets in the pupal stage. The respiratory siphon is located in the anal region and the larvae rest head - down in the water, with their posterior end exposed to the water surface.

Adults of both sexes feed on nectar from plants but only females feed on blood from animals.They use both visual and olfactory cues to locate hosts. Carbon dioxide, lactic acid and octenol are important chemical host attractants, the time of flight and feeding activity is usually quite specific for most species. Some mosquitoes can deposit eggs without first taking a meal of blood (autogeny). Most, however, must blood - feed prior to developing eggs (anautogeny). Adults usually remain in the area where the larvae developed, most mosquitoes are found near water. A few species, such as Aedes sollicitans and Aedes vexans, will disperse greater distances.
Source: Capinera, 2010

Preservation and curation:

Larvae and pupas: 70% Etanol
Adults assembly: On a cube mount, with thorax impaled laterally or with thorax impaled laterally.


According to Harbach and Kitchin (1998) family Culicidae is a monophyletic group supported by three sinapomorphies that include: erect scales on head, mouthparts long, and prealar setae. Despite the above, deeper relationships can be unresolved. Subfamily Anophelinae is a monophyletic lineage basal to all other Culicidae. Subfamily Culicinae is not demonstrably monophyletic in relation to genus Toxorhynchites. Tribes Aedini, Culicini and Sabethini are monophyletic.

Wood & Borkent (1989) listed two morphological synapomorphies for Culicidae, premandible of larvae entirely internal, apparently without any remnant of an external sclerite (apomorphic), and proboscis of adults markedly elongate, with piercing stylets ensheathed by the labium (apomorphic).

Another study proposed by Shepard et. al, (2006) based on small subunit ribosomal DNA (18S rDNA) sequences, also pointed out to Toxorhynchites as a distinct monophyletic sister group to the Culicinae but also showed as a sister taxon to Aedes and Ochlerotatus. The placement of Uranotaenia was inconclusive and seemed to be either a sister group to the Aedes and Ochlerotatus or a basal taxon to all other culicines. Aedes and Ochlerotatus formed two separate and distinct clades, providing phylogenetic data consistent with the recent elevation of Ochlerotatus to the generic level as proposed by Reinert (2000).

Culicidae is a family with an important role as vectors biological and mechanical of infectious agents (arbovirus, nematodes, protozoa) that produce various diseases in public health and veterinary medicine (Navarro et al. 2009). Although hematophagous Diptera are a small fraction of order their diversity, for example morphological, is relevant. These diseases have taken millions of lives and today continue being priority especially in countries of the tropics and subtropics. Besides factors such as global climate change, growing urbanization, modern transportation among others, favor the possibility that sylvatic vector populations establish in areas that were previously free of them (Muñoz et. al, 2006). Some of the most widespread diseases and best known transmitted by these vectors are:

Diseases, Hosts, and their Mosquito Vectors






Cache Valley Virus


Humans; Mammals

Aedes triseriatus; Aedes aegypti; Culex pipiens

National Center for Biotechnology Information;University of Notre Dame

California Encephalitis Virus


Humans; Rodents; Rabbits; Chipmunks; Squirrels

Aedes dorsalis; Aedes melanimon

Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit; University of Florida

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus


Humans; Horses; Birds

4 Aedes; 2 Culex; Culiseta melanurus; Coquillettidia perturbans

Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit; University of Florida

Flavivirus dengue



Aedes aegypti; Aedes albopictus

Center for Disease Control, Taiwan; Centers for Disease Control

Plasmodium malariae



about 60 Anopheles worldwide

Carlo Denegri Foundation; University of Florida

Plasmodium vivax



about 60 Anopheles worldwide

Carlo Denegri Foundation; University of Florida


Dog Heartworm

Cats; Dogs

Aedes deserticola; Aedes monticola; Aedes sierrensis; Aedes varipalpus

Los Angeles County West Vector Control District

Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus


Humans; Birds

6 Culex

Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit; University of Florida

West Nile Virus

Humans; Horses; Birds

36 species

Centers for Disease Control

Western Equine Encephalitis Virus


Humans; Horses; Birds

Aedes melanimon; Culex tarsalis; Culiseta inornata

Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit; University of Florida

Yellow Fever Virus

Yellow fever

Humans; Monkeys; other animals

Aedes aegypti; Aedes africanus; Aedes bromeliae; Aedes furcifer-taylori; Aedes kiteocephalus; Aedes simpsoni; Haemogogus

University of Florida; Health Canada

Some available keys and papers:
  • A pictorical key to the genera of Culicidae (Diptera) from Chile of medical importance (Gonzalez, et, al. 2008)
  • Clave fotográfica para hembras de zancudos (Díptera: Culicidae) presentes en Centroamérica y Panamá (INBio)
  • Identificación de larvas de mosquitos (Diptera: Culicidae) de Mérida, Yucatán, México y sus principales criaderos (Manrique-saide et. al, 2007)
  • Corrections and Additions to Taxonomists' Glossary of Mosquito Anatomy (Harbach, E. and I. J. Kitching, 1981)
  • Keys to the medically important mosquito species (source:
  • Phylogeny and classification of the Culicidae (Diptera) (HarBach and Kitching, 1998)
  • Lista de Mosquitos de Colombia (Diptera: Culicidae) (Barreto, 1955; Duefias et. al, 1957)
  • Identificación de larvas de mosquitos (Diptera: Culicidae) de Mérida, Yucatán, México y sus principales criaderos (Zapata-Peniche, et. al, 2007)
Useful Links

1. Capinera, J.L., 2010. Insects and wildlife : arthropods and their relationships with wild vertebrate animals 1st ed. John Wiley & Sons, eds., Gainesville, Florida, USA.

2. Duefias, V.H., Fajardo, L.F. & Borrero, J.I., 1957. Mosquitos de Colombia ( Diptera , Culicidae ).

3. González, C.R., JerCiC M.I., Reyes C., MeJias G., PlavetiC C., Parra A., 2008. A PICTORIAL KEY TO THE GENERA OF CULICIDAE (DIPTERA) FROM CHILE OF MEDICAL IMPORTANCE. Acta Entomológica Chilena, 32, pp.35-42.

4. Harbach, E. and I. J. Kitching, 1998. Phylogeny and classification of the Culicidae (Diptera). Systematic Entomology 23: 327-370.

5. Harbach, E. and I. J. Kitching, 1981. Corrections and Additions to Taxonomists’ Glossary of Mosquito Anatomy. Systematics.

6. Manrique-saide, P., Che-mendoza, A. & Dzul-manzanilla, F., 2007. Identificación de larvas de mosquitos (Diptera: Culicidae) de Mérida, Yucatán, México y sus principales criaderos. , 18(490), pp.3-17.

7. Muñoz O.L., Ibáñez S., Corona M., 2007. Folia Entomologica Mexicana 2006 ISSN-0430-8603 LOS MOSQUITOS ( DIPTERA : CULICIDAE ) DE TLAXCALA , MÉXICO .pp.223-271.

8. Navarro, J.-carlos et al., 2010. Registros de mayor altitud para mosquitos ( Diptera : Culicidae ) en Venezuela. Database, 58(March), pp.245-254.

9. Shepard, J.J., Andreadis, T.G. & Vossbrinck, C.R., 2006. Molecular Phylogeny and Evolutionary Relationships Among Mosquitoes (Diptera:Culicidae) from the Northeastern United States Based on Small Subunit Ribosomal DNA (18S rDNA) Sequences. , pp.443-454.

10. Zapata-Peniche, A. et al., 2007. Identificación de larvas de mos- quitos (Diptera: Culicidae) de Mérida, Yucatán, México y sus principales criaderos. , 18(490), pp.3-17.

11. Wood, D.M. & Borkent, A. (1989) Phylogeny and classification of the Nematocera. Manual of Nearctic Diptera, Vol. 3 (eds J. F. McAlpine and D. M. Wood), pp. 1333-1370. Research Branch Agriculture Canada Monograph no. 32, Canadian Government Publishing Centre, Hull, Quebec.

12. WRBU. 2009. Walter Reed Biosystematics, Systematic Catalog of Culicidae. Washington DC, EEUU (Consultado: julio 16 2009,

1 comentario:

  1. Hola Susana. Sobre la presencia de sifon en las larvas de Culicidae; me pregunto si no habria que diferenciar entre un sifon (culicini) y un aparato espiracular como el que se reporta para Anophelini? aunque parece ser sirven para lo mismo, taxonomicamente podria ser util?