Aedes taeniorhynchus

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Aedes taeniorhynchus
Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus syn. Aedes taeniorhynchus aka the Black Salt Marsh Mosquito.jpg
Female black salt marsh mosquito
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Culicidae
Genus: Aedes
A. taeniorhynchus
Binomial name
Aedes taeniorhynchus
(Wiedemann, 1821)

Aedes taeniorhynchus, commonly known as the black salt marsh mosquito, is a mosquito in the family Culicidae that is a carrier for encephalitic viruses including Venezuelan equine encephalitis. The species resides in the Americas and is known to bite birds and mammals. Synonymous names for Ae. taeniorhynchus include Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus, Culex taeniorhynchus, and Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus.[1][2]


This species is mostly black with areas of white banding. A single white band appears at the center of the proboscis, multiple white bands span the distal ends of the legs following the leg joints, and the last hind leg joints are colored completely white.[3]

This species looks similar to Aedes sollicitans, except for subtle differences in the larval and adult stages. In the larval stage, Ae. taeniorhynchus has a shorter breathing tube; its scale patches are rounded instead of pointed at the tips, and spines that line the edges of each scale patch are smaller near the scale patch base.[3] In the adult stage, Ae. taeniorhynchus is smaller in overall size and is mostly black while Ae. sollicitans is golden brown.[3]

The species also bears similarity to Aedes jacobinae, which falls within the Taeniorhynchus subgenus due to its hypopygium structure, but is a distinct species because it does not have leg markings.[4] Similarly, this species can also be distinguished from Aedes albopictus, known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, as Ae. taeniorhynchus, unlike Ae. albopictus, does not have markings on its back.[5]


Aedes taeniorhynchus is widely distributed across North and South America, with concentration in the south.[6][7] After the fly's initial discovery, the species first resided in coastal regions, then gradually moved towards the interior of the Americas.[4]

Following emergence, adult mosquitoes migrate away from the egg laying ground over the course of 1-4 days.[8] Different sexes exhibit differential migration, with most females traveling at least 20 mi (32 km), and most males traveling no farther than 2 mi (3.2 km).[8] Female migration follows a random pattern with no limitation on migration direction and migration occurring along a 5-day cycle.[8] Males initially travel with females until they hit a 1–2 mi (1.6–3.2 km) stopping point, where they replace migration with swarming.[8]


Aedes taeniorhynchus resides in habitats with a temporary water source, making mangrove and salt marshes or other areas with moist soil popular locations for egg laying and immature growth.[9] These habitats are of variable, but often high salinity, with observed soluble salt content in soil of at least 1644 ppm.[10]

In the case that environmental conditions become unfavorable for egg hatching, eggs can remain dormant for years amidst dryness and low temperatures.[11] Factors controlling the scale of Ae. taeniorhynchus growth during pre-emergence depend on environmental conditions matching moisture level and temperature. In Southern Florida, these factors are tide height and amount of rainfall,[12] while sites in California rely on mainly tide height alone,[13] and in Virginia, the factors come down to amount of rainfall and temperature.[14] Extremes of necessary factors, however, cause survival rate to decline as excess of water washes mosquito eggs away[12] and high temperature to an extreme leads to water source evaporation.[13]

Map of Florida.

This species exhibits sensitivity to temperature, with differences found for constant, split, and alternating temperatures.[15] At constant temperatures of 22, 27, and 32 °C, life span increased with temperature, but at split temperatures, mosquitoes were also split between life and death.[15] At different temperatures, rate of aging in males was independent in males, but higher for females living at 22 and 27 °C.[15] At alternating temperatures, life spans were temperature independent for all sexes and temperatures, except for favoring of alternation between 22 and 27 °C by females.[15]

Life history[edit]

According to observational field studies, Ae. taeniorhynchus carries out several behavioral trends at different stages of life. Growth and pupation of this species were found to be affected by environmental factors of nutrition, population density, salinity, light-dark, and temperature.[16]


Females lay eggs on dry ground, and egg hatching is triggered by sources of water, whether from rain or flooding.[17] Egg laying yield from females, an indicator of fecundity, differs based on diet: in populations of low autogeny, rare autogenous females each laid less than 30 eggs, while egg yield was significantly higher in populations with majority autogenous females.[11] Eggs laid in the right temperature and humidity conditions undergo embryogenesis, then stay dormant until hatching.[16]

Larval instars[edit]

Upon hatching, the species progresses through 4 larval instars: the first 3 instars are affected primarily by temperature, with minor effects by salinity; the fourth instar is affected by all environmental factors.[16] In the fourth instar, increased food sped up development time while crowding and salinity stunted growth.[16]


All environmental factors affect pupation regarding the insect's diurnal rhythm, which has a period of 21.5 hours.[16] Factors leading to an increased period included substitution of light-dark cycles with all dark or all light, increased salinity, and crowding, with these trends also adhering to a preference for temperatures close to 27° or 32°C.[16]

Pupa also exhibit differential aggregation formation due to these environmental factors. Cluster type aggregations form alongside temporary crowding and excess of food while ball type aggregations may manifest out of temporary crowding but lack of food.[18] At lower constant temperatures of 22 °C and 25 °C, cluster type aggregations may form but higher temperatures of 30° and 32°C inhibit aggregation formation.[18] Aggregations produced pupa with slightly heavier dry body weights and promoted developmental synchronization in ecdysis and greater likelihood of migration at emergence.[18]

Adult stages[edit]

Both males and females mosquitoes emerge from their egg sites similarly. They remain in their sources of water for 12-24 hrs before traveling away from this site for the next 3 days.[9] Adults begin biting at day 4 and follow a 5-day cycle until death. Between the sexes, peak biting intensity occurs in females at ages 4, 9, and 14 days.[9] Adult female mosquitoes continue living and laying eggs for 3-4 weeks before dying.[9] Those that survive longer continue to bite but stop laying eggs.[9]

Food resources[edit]

Aedes taeniorhynchus eggs can mature both autogenously and anautogenously, with autogenous eggs feeding on sugar and anautogenous eggs requiring a blood meal.[19] These food sources promote maturation by producing hormones from the corpora allata (CA) and medial neurosecretory cell perikarya (MNCA), of which only MNCA hormone release is responsible for anautogenous maturation.[19] Larval dependence on needing a blood meal can be influenced to make mosquitoes less autogenous by not allowing females to feed on sugar and by imposing other dietary changes.[20]

Adult mosquitoes feed on a combination diet of blood and sugar, with the optimal diet consisting of sugar for males and both blood and sugar for females.[21] Regarding blood meals of Ae. taeniorhynchus, most mosquitoes feed on mammals and birds, especially feeding on bovine, rabbit, and armadillo sources.[22] However, experimental studies show that both sexes can survive on a sugar only diet for 2-3 months, but females require blood meals for egg production.[23] In females, supplementation of a blood meal in autogenous mosquitoes increased both egg production and lifespan.[23] If emergence occurs at a location with flowers, both sexes feed on nectar prior to migration.[24]


Males become sexually mature after 2 days following emergence and females become sexually mature at an age of 12 days, with plans to mate only once.[7]

Observational studies of mating interactions both in a laboratory setting and field setting noted copulation between mosquitoes occurring after sunset. Results noted that copulation depends on age of females, with insemination occurring with females of ages 30-40 hours.[25] In both settings studied, females are capable of mating without inducing insemination, as only 1% of females contained sperm after 2 notes of potential mating.[25] Mating not only provides an opportunity for insemination but also contributes to vitellogenin synthesis in females, as experimental injections of male accessory gland fluid (MAGF) has been shown to cause release of corpus cardiacum (CC) stimulating factor in the ovaries, which spurs research of egg development neurosecretory hormone (EDNH).[26]

Despite the act of males forming top-swarms, mating has not been observed to coincide with swarming.[9]

Parental care[edit]

Females are known to practice oviposition, with preference for high moisture soils, with water saturation greater than 70%.[27] Female clutch sizes are 100-200 eggs, with at least one clutch laid per female.[7]

In a study of eggs laid in Rhizophora mangle L. (red mangrove) and Avicennia germinans L. (black mangrove) forest basins, egg occurrence was correlated with elevation and detritus level.[28] Oviposition was directed from black mangrove basins to red mangrove basins, possibly due to reduced detritus and reduced organic content in the soil caused by black mangrove grazing by Melampus coffeus L., a snail.[28] Because eggshells and eggs share the same habitat, it is suggested that oviposition may be delineated using eggshells.[28] Additionally, sulfates and other salts were deemed favorable to ovipositing females in a laboratory setting but sulfate concentrations in the field may be too low for this effect to be significant.[29] Substrate texture was also determined to be a factor contributing to oviposition, with studies of egg laying on sand particle size indicating a preference for sand particles sized from 0.33-0.62 mm.[30]

Social behavior[edit]

Adult males begin forming top-swarms beginning at an age of 4 days and lasting until 2-3 weeks of age.[9] These swarms form every evening and morning at a fixed location and time[9] and last for a maximum of 30 minutes.[7] In field observations of Ae. taeniorhynchus in Florida, morning and evening swarms were typically halfway finished by the time point of 4 minutes before and after twilight, respectively.[9] The initial stimulus for swarming behavior is unknown, but time spent swarming depends on sensitivity of individual males to the swarming driving force and swarm size, with small swarms lasting for 12 minutes and large swarms lasting for 27 minutes.[9] These swarms are characterized as transient passage swarms, where males participate in the swarm for 1.5 minutes at a time rather than the full time.[9]


Parasites to this species include Amblyospora polykarya, a species of Microspora that lasts for a single generation on Ae. taeniorhynchus.[31]

Aedes taeniorhynchus also acts as an ectoparasite to Diomedea irrorata, known as waved albatrosses.[32] Mosquitoes bite the waved albatrosses, directly leading to or transmitting diseases that cause nestling mortality, colony migration, or egg desertion in albatrosses.[32]


West Nile Virus

Aedes taeniorhynchus is a carrier for West Nile Virus, mosquito iridescent virus,[33] the eastern and western type of equine encephalomyelitis,[34] Venezuelan equine encelphalomyelitis virus,[35] and yellow fever virus.[36] Experimental studies also established that the species is capable of mechanical transmission of Bacillus anthracis.[37]

Lack of protective coloration[edit]

Experimental investigation of evolutionary coloration of Ae. taeniorhynchus yielded negative results.[38] Of mosquitoes reared in conditions of darkness, backgrounds colored black, white, or green, and lighting conditions of fluorescent light or sunlight, no color changes were observed for the species in fat body nor in the head capsule, saddle, and siphon.[38] This lack of cryptic coloring is suggested to be due to a lack of threat to the species; because the species habitat is a temporary water source used for larval growth, this temporary environment has few predators and relatively little danger.[38]


Aedes niger, also known as Aedes portoricensis, is a subspecies of Ae. taeniorhynchus.[3] It can be identified by its last posterior tarsal joint, which is mostly black rather than banded in white.[3] It resides in Florida and can migrate as far as 95 mi (153 km).[3]

Analysis of microsatellite data on the genes of Ae. taeniorhynchus living in the Galapagos Islands show genetic differentiation between coastal and highland mosquito populations.[39] Data indicates minimal gene flow between the populations that only occurs during periods of heightened rainfall.[39] Genetic differences suggest that habitat differences led to driving adaptation and divergence in the species, eventually leading to future speciation.[39] Highland mosquitoes have population features characteristic of a founder effect due to low genetic diversity manifesting as low heterozygosity and low allelic richness, which may have resulted from egg dormancy during periods of dryness.[39]


Adult female mosquitoes ready to lay eggs in several behaviors different from other adult females. They perform a special flight at ages 7, 12, and 17, following a 5-day cycle.[9] Changes in diet have effects on flight in males sand females: males fed sugar alone exhibited changes in flight patterns that resembled cyclic swarming, females fed sugar alone exhibited consistent flight patterns consisting of a 4-week cycle of flight 40 minutes during dark and 20 minutes during light, females fed sugar and blood experienced reduced flight after 2 weeks, and females fed blood alone flew no more than 10 days.[23] Starved females later fed blood stayed sedentary for 8 hours before returning to flight.[23]

Flights are occur with the purpose of acquiring nectar, with flight distance depending on wind speed, direction, landscape, and nectar availability.[7] Females typically fly 2-5 miles in search of nectar, but flights ranging 30 miles have been recorded as a result of other flight factors.[7] Adults searching for a blood meal may also fly up to 25 miles.[5]

Flight patterns are these mosquitoes are closely related to light sensitivity, as flight patterns increase with strength of moonlight: females increase flight activity from 95% at quarter moon to 546% at full moon.[40] Male and female adult mosquitoes are repelled by light,[17] allowing mosquitoes to be caught with light traps.[8][41] However, females ready to lay eggs to not exhibit this behavior.[9]


Breeding locations for Ae. taeniorhynchus are often in contact with vegetation such as Distichlis spicata (spike grass) and Spartina patens (salt meadow hay) in grass salt marshes and Batis maritima (saltwort) and species from the Salicornia genus (glassworts) in mangroves.[7]

This species of mosquito is found in close proximity to other mosquitoes that reside in marches. These include Aedes sollicitans (eastern salt marsh mosquito), Anopheles bradleyi, and A. atropos.[7]

This species can transmit Dirofilaria immitis, a filarial worm that can can cause heartworm in dogs.[42]

Interactions with humans[edit]

This species of mosquito is considered a pest among humans, with Florida districts attempting to control the mosquitoes since 1927 and having spent US $1.5 million on insect control in 1951.[8] Copper acetoarsenite, known as Paris green, is used as an insecticide for Ae. taeniorhynchus larvae at the species breeding site, as the substance acts as a toxic stomach poison.[43] DDT was also deemed to be effective against the salt marsh mosquitoes and has been used for Ae. taeniorhynchus treatment in the past.[44]

Humans have also tried to limit biting from Ae. taeniorhynchus by wearing chemically treated protective clothing. Clothing treated with permethrin [(3-phenoxyphenyl)methyl (±) cis/trans 3-(2-dichloroethenyl)2, 2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate] alongside application of deet (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) to the skin were shown to be extremely effective in reducing mosquito bites compared to usage of only one form of protection or no protection.[45]


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