Animalia / Mandulibulata / Hexapoda / Diptera / Culicidae / Culex / Species

Culex pipiens complex - Northern house mosquito:

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INDEX - INFORMATION AVAILABLE

The information in subject headings below is of a general nature on mosquitoes, and Culex genus. Species specific information is only added where available/appropriate. For this species information has been added in the sections marked *.

GENERAL & REFERENCES

APPEARANCE

LIFE CYCLE

ENVIRONMENT

STATUS

 
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Alternative scientific names for species

  • Culex pipiens pipiens, Culex pipiens molestus, Culex molestus (B505)
  • Rain-barrel mosquito (B505)

Common names for species / adults

Culicine Mosquitoes

Names for other life stages

  • Larval stages may be referred to as instars.
  • Pupae may be called Tumblers.

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General Appearance and Characteristics

  • Multiple generation reproduction. (W254.Dec03.WNV7, J300.10.w1)
  • Described as ornithophilic (preferring to feed on birds) (W170, P39.2.w6)
  • Generally, in favourable conditions, the time required for development of Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) varies from about 7 to 16 days. (B24)

Similar Species

Sexual Dimorphism --

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Associated Diseases
(Information on this species has been added specifically to support the "West Nile Virus" Wildpro volume.
Information on other diseases for which this species is a vector will be fully researched and added in due course.)

Linked Diseases

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References

Species Author

Suzanne I. Boardman (V.w6)

Species Editor

Debra Bourne (V.w5)

References

B24, B46, B73, B502, B503, B504, D70

ORGANISATIONS
(USA Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Population Management / Control

Notes

--

Management Techniques

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Appearance

Egg

Shape

  • Culicine eggs do not have floats. (B46)

Size

  • --
Colour
  • --
Egg wall
  • Culicine eggs are usually smooth. (B46)

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Larva

GENERAL CULICIDAE INFORMATION

Shape

  • --

Size

  • --
Colour
  • --
Detailed anatomical comments
  • Culicine larvae
    • do not have float (palmate) hairs on abdominal segments. (D70)
    • the respiratory openings (stigmata) are at the tip of a siphon (air tube) which arises from the dorsal aspect of the eight and ninth abdominal segments and surrounds the stigmata. (B24, D70)
      • Culex species larvae have several pair of hair tufts on the breathing tube, and the tube is relatively long and slender. (B503)

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Pupa

Shape

  • --

Size

  • --
Colour
  • --
Detailed anatomical comments
  • --

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Adult

Male characteristics (if different from above)

Shape

  • In Culicine Mosquitoes the resting position of abdomen is pointed towards the resting surface, i.e. the proboscis and abdomen are at an angle, giving a hump-backed appearance. (B24, B503)

Size

  • --

Colour

  • --

Detailed Anatomical Comments

HEAD
  • In Culicines - the palpi of females are very short, while those of the male are usually as long as the proboscis, not clubbed, long, densely haired, and pointed. (B24, B503, D70)

THORAX

  • Culex females usually have a dull coloured abdomen. (B503)
  • In Culicines mosquitoes the scutellum (posterior part of the back of the thorax of the insect) is evenly curved. (B24, B503)
  • Culex species have neither spiracular bristles nor post-spiracular bristles. (B503)

ABDOMEN

  • In Culicines the abdomen is covered with scales which often form characteristic markings. (D70)
  • Culex females usually have a blunt end to the abdomen with the paired cerci (jointed appendage at the tip of the abdomen in insects) retracted. (B503)

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Life Cycle

Egg production and development

  • In some temperate Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) species, eggs may over-winter. (B46)
    • Culex eggs -
      • laid side by side to form a raft which often contains 100 or more eggs. (D70, B46)
      • the eggs are arranged vertically with their anterior ends towards the water. (B24)
      • eggs remain afloat on the surface of the water until hatching occurs. (D70)
      • usually hatch after a few days. (D70)
Oviposition (place and type of egg-laying)
  • --
Time to hatching
Number of broods
  • --

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Larval Development / Natural Diet / Behaviour

Natural Diet All Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) larvae generally strain out small aquatic organisms, algae and particles of plant and animal material as food. (D70)
Physiological Requirements Temperature

Food supplies:

Respiration:

Predation in the wild
  • Fish, insects. (D70)
Behaviour and Activity Patterns
  • young stages of Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) can be transferred to new areas by water flowing intermittently. (B24)
  • too much rain can wash away the larvae and decrease the number of Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family), unless pools remain afterwards. (B24)
  • generally, Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) larvae can rest just beneath the surface without effort; certain non-wetting structures suspend the larvae from the water surface film. (D70)
  • Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) larvae move in two ways, by:
    • jerks of the body. (D70)
    • propulsion with the mouth brushes. (D70)
  • Culicine mosquitoes generally move by using mouth brushes to "crawl" over the bottom and move slowly on the surface. (D70)
  • Culicine larvae (and other non-Anopheline species):
    • tend to hang head down with only the tip of the air tube penetrating the surface film, suspended from the water surface by the air tube. (B503, D70).
    • feed below surface of the water. (B24)
    • the air tube is closed by the chitinous valves which open when the larva goes to the surface of the water to breath. (B24)

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Pupal Development

  • All Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) pupae are aquatic and motile, using paddle-like, oval extensions attached terminally to the abdomen to move up and down in the water. (B46, D70).
  • The pupal stage for Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) is usually short: a few hours may be sufficient for certain dry climate species, but more normally ranges from two days in the tropics but can be more than several weeks in temperate regions. (B46, B504, D70)
  • No Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) pupa is known to overwinter as a pupa. (D70)
  • The Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) pupa release the adult through a hole / split in back (dorsum) of the pupal cuticle (tegument) as the pupal case floats on the surface of the water. The wings are fully expanded and hardened after about 24 hours and the mosquito is then soon able to fly. (B46, B504, D70)
Natural Diet
Physiological Requirements Respiration
Predation in the wild
  • Probably - fish, insects. (D70)
Behaviour and Activity Patterns
  • All Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) pupae are motile, using paddle-like, oval extensions attached terminally to the abdomen to move up and down in the water. (B46, D70).
  • Most Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) pupae tend to be lighter than water due to an air space between the wing cases on the underside of the cephalothorax. (D70)
  • Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) pupae can move about with considerable speed by vigorous movement of the abdomen, tending to rise directly to the surface when movement stops although they tend to be not quite as active as the larvae. (B24, D70)

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Adult Reproduction / Physiology / Natural Diet / Behaviour

  • Multiple generation reproduction. (W254.Dec03.WNV7, J300.10.w1)
Natural Diet
  • Described as ornithophilic (preferring to feed on birds) (W170, P39.2.w6).
  • Most Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) species have a generally preferred group of hosts (e.g. birds, mammals, amphibians), but host preference can vary seasonally and often depends on availability. (V.w55)

  • Female adult Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) species of veterinary and medical importance normally feed on blood and many species require a blood feed in order to lay eggs (other species of mosquitoes feed only on plants and these are usually of little interest as disease vectors or pests. B504); the protein is necessary for the maturation of ovaries. This cycle requires two or more days for the female to digest the blood, lay a batch of eggs, then seek another blood meal; the cycle can be repeated many times in a female's life. (B24, B504, D70)
  • When Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) females feed, a tube is formed by the proboscis and the stylets penetrate the skin of the animal and form a small duct through which saliva is injected into the wound; they also act as a canal through which liquid food is ingested. (B46, D70)
  • Adult Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) can be fed on fruit juices and sugar water, and males normally feed on a similar diet in the wild. (B24)
  • Adult male Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) (and occasionally the females) feed on nectar and other plant juices. (B24, B503)
  • female adult Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) can bite through clothing. (B46)
Predation in the wild --
Reproduction and Life-span
Behaviour and Activity Patterns
Detailed Physiological Comments
  • The antennae of Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) are believed to to used for hearing and smelling. (D70)
  • Two small knobbed structures (halteres) vibrate rapidly whilst the mosquito is in flight and serve as organs of equilibrium. (D70)

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Environment

General Habitat type (Biogeographical / Climate Type)

  • The larvae are found in foul water in rain barrels, tubs, catch basins, faulty cesspools, ditches and other similar habitats. Water containing vegetable wastes from food-processing plants often provides favourable conditions for larval development. (B505, W254.Dec03.WNV7, J300.10.w1)

  • This is a domesticated species developing in association with man. (B505)

Typical USA Mosquito Habitats

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Microhabitat (Egg, Larvae, Pupae, Adult)

Egg Temperature

Humidity

Larva
  • The larvae are found in foul water and water containing vegetable wastes from food-processing plants often provides favourable conditions for larval development. (B505)
  • All Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) larvae live in water. (D70)
  • Development of the eggs, larvae and pupae of all Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) species require water. (D70)
  • Vegetation is important for the development of larval Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family). (D70)
  • Habitats of larval Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) vary greatly between species and may include small temporary collections of water (puddles etc.) to marshes. The larvae are rarely found in fast-flowing streams or rivers, or large uninterrupted waterbodies such as lakes. (B46)
  • Culex larvae are found mainly artificial containers. (B503)
  • All Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) larvae live in water, permanent ponds and marshes, temporary flood waters or woodland pools, water contained in tree holes, leaves of plants, or artificial containers. (D70)
  • Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) larvae are not usually found in flowing streams and the open waters of large streams, lakes and seas. (D70)

Light:

Pupa
Adult
  • Females commonly infest houses. (B505)
  • Adult females hibernate in cellars, basements, outbuildings, caves and other warm places offering protection against the cold. (B505)
  • Hibernation / aestivation sites of Culicidae - Mosquitoes (Family) females are usually relatively dark conditions with an even temperature, such as cellars, barns and lofts under thatched roofs. (B24)

Light:

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Geographical Distribution, Migration etc.

  • This species/complex is considered to occur mainly in the north, whereas Culex quinquefasciatus is distributed in the south. (B505)

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Status

Intra-specific variation (subspeciation)

  • The Culex pipiens complex appears to currently include Culex pipiens pipiens and Culex pipiens molestus. (B505)
  • Culex pipiens and Culex quiquefasciatus have been shown to interbreed in captivity. (B505)

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Conservation / Pest / Legal Status

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