Culex quinquefasciatus

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Culex quinquefasciatus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Culicidae
Genus: Culex
C. quinquefasciatus
Binomial name
Culex quinquefasciatus
Say, 1823
  • Culex acer Walker, 1848
  • Culex aestuans Wiedemann, 1828
  • Culex aikenii Dyar & Knab, 1908
  • Culex albolineatus Giles, 1901
  • Culex anxifer Bigot, 1859
  • Culex aseyehae Dyar & Knab, 1915
  • Culex autumnalis Weyenbergh, 1882
  • Culex barbarus Dyar & Knab, 1906
  • Culex cartroni Ventrillon, 1905
  • Culex christophersii Theobald, 1907
  • Culex cingulatus Doleschall, 1856
  • Culex cubensis Bigot, 1857
  • Culex didieri Neveu-Lemaire, 1906
  • Culex fatigans Wiedemann, 1828
  • Culex fouchowensis Theobald, 1901
  • Culex hensemaeon Dyar, 1920
  • Culex luteoannulatus Theobald, 1901
  • Culex macleayi Skuse, 1889
  • Culex minor Theobald, 1908
  • Culex nigrirostris Enderlein, 1920
  • Culex pallidocephala Theobald, 1904
  • Culex penafieli Sanchez, 1885
  • Culex pungens Wiedemann, 1828
  • Culex pygmaeus Neveu-Lemaire, 1906
  • Culex quasilinealis Theobald, 1907
  • Culex quasipipiens Theobald, 1901
  • Culex raymondii Tamayo, 1907
  • Culex reesi Theobald, 1901
  • Culex revocator Dyar & Knab, 1909
  • Culex sericeus Theobald, 1901
  • Culex serotinus Philippi, 1865
  • Culex skusii Giles, 1900
  • Culex trillineatus Theobald, 1901
  • Culex zeltneri Neveu-Lemaire, 1906
  • Culicelsa fuscus Taylor, 1914

Culex quinquefasciatus (originally named Culex fatigans), commonly known as the southern house mosquito, is a medium-sized mosquito found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is a vector of Wuchereria bancrofti, avian malaria, and arboviruses including St. Louis encephalitis virus, Western equine encephalitis virus, Zika virus[1] and West Nile virus.[2][3] It is taxonomically regarded as a member of the Culex pipiens species complex.[4][5] Its genome was sequenced in 2010, and was shown to have 18,883 protein-coding genes.[6]


American entomologist Thomas Say described Culex quinquefasciatus, which he collected along the Mississippi River, in 1823. Originally written as "C. 5-fasciatus", the name refers to 5 (quinque) black, broad, transverse bands ("fasciatus" or "fasciae") on the mosquito's dorsal abdomen. The name remains despite later revelations of more than 5 fasciae, thanks to improved microscopy. Although quinquefasciatus is the official scientific name, there are at least 5 synonymous names for this species.[7]


Cx. quinquefasciatus is a member of the Culex pipiens species complex.[4][5] Smith et al. 2004 develop an assay specifically for this complex and use it to confirm that it does encompass this species.[4]


The adult C. quinquefasciatus is a medium-sized mosquito and is brown in colour. The body is about 3.96 to 4.25 mm long. While the main body is brown, the proboscis, thorax, wings, and tarsi are darker than the rest of the body. The head is light brown, with the lightest portion in the center. The antennae and the proboscis are about the same length, but in some cases, the antennae are slightly shorter than the proboscis. The flagellum has 13 segments that may have few or no scales. The scales of the thorax are narrow and curved. The abdomen has pale, narrow, rounded bands on the basal side of each tergite. Males can be differentiated from females in having large palps and feathery antennae.[8]

The larva has a short and stout head. The mouth brushes have long yellow filaments used for filtering organic materials. The abdomen consists of eight segments, the siphon, and the saddle. Each segment has a unique setae pattern. The siphon is on the dorsal side of the abdomen, and is four times longer than its breadth. The siphon has multiple setae tufts. The saddle is barrel-shaped and located on the ventral side of the abdomen, with four long anal papillae protruding from the posterior end.[2]


Mature C. quinquefasciatus females fly at night to nutrient-rich standing water to lay eggs. They breed profusely in dirty water collections, including stagnant drains, cesspools, septic tanks with leaks, burrow pits, and almost all organic polluted water collections. A single female can lay up to five rafts of eggs in a lifetime, with each raft containing 100 to 300 eggs.[9] The exact number varies depending on climatic conditions.[2] The larvae feed on organic material in the water and require between five and eight days to complete their development at 30 °C (86 °F). The larvae pass through four larval instars, and towards the end of the fourth instar, they stop eating and undergo moulting to give rise to pupae. After 36 hours at 27 °C (81 °F), adults emerge. The exact timing of development can vary depending on temperature. In optimum temperature and humidity, the lifecycle will be completed in seven days, passing through the egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages.[citation needed]

Both male and female adults take sugar meals from plants. After mating, the female seeks a blood meal from a mammal or bird, as ingested blood is necessary for egg development. C. quinquefasciatus shows a preference for the blood of birds, but will also commonly bite humans.[10]


Known hosts include birds (Aves), cattle (Bos taurus), dogs (Canis familiaris), Equus including donkeys (E. asinus), cats (Felis), mice (Mus musculus), house sparrows (Passer domesticus), rats (Rattus) and boars (Sus scrofa).[11]


"Quinx" are among the world's most abundant peridomestic mosquitoes, earning the nickname "southern house mosquito". The species' place of origin is uncertain. It may have been native to the lowlands of West Africa, or to Southeast Asia.[11] Cx. quinquefasciatus is now found throughout subtropical and tropical areas worldwide, including the Americas, Australia and New Zealand,[12] except for exceedingly dry or cold regions. Thomas Say described the species as "exceedingly numerous and troublesome". It rests in trees and high places.[10]

As a vector[edit]

The southern house mosquito is a principal vector of numerous pathogens, transmitting the phlebovirus Rift Valley fever virus, and the two flaviviruses St. Louis encephalitis virus and West Nile virus, plus filarial worms and avian malarial parasites.[7]

It transmits zoonotic diseases that affect humans and wild and domestic animals, such as lymphatic filariasis, avian malaria, St. Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, and West Nile fever, and may be a vector of the Zika virus.[13] It causes infection through biting during blood meal. In the southern U.S., it is the primary vector of St. Louis encephalitis virus. In India and Southeast Asia, it is the primary vector of Wuchereria bancrofti, a nematode that causes lymphatic filariasis. It acts as an intermediate host for the helminth parasite by harbouring the larval stages.[14] In Hawaii, it is the principal vector of avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum), to which historic extinctions and significant contemporary population declines in Hawaii's native honeycreeper species are attributed. It is the definitive host for the malarial parasite as it harbours the sexual cycle.[15] In 2013 West Nile Virus positive specimens were collected in Southern California. Now, people have to stop the invasive spread to save the native birds.[16][failed verification]


  1. ^ Nolen, Stephanie (July 21, 2016). ‘Very bad news for Brazil’: Zika virus found in second mosquito species. The Globe and Mail.
  2. ^ a b c Hill, Stephanie; Connelly, Roxanne (2009). "Features Creatures: Southern house mosquito". University of Florida. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  3. ^ Sandhu TS, Williams GA, Haynes BW, Dhillon MS. Evaluation of arboviral activity at Northwest Mosquito and Vector Control District, Riverside County, California during 2008. Proc and Papers of the Mosq and Vector Control Assoc of Calif, vol 77, 2009. p. 108-15.
  4. ^ a b c Harbach, Ralph E. (2012). "Culex pipiens: Species Versus Species Complex – Taxonomic History and Perspective". Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. The American Mosquito Control Association. 28 (4s): 10–23. doi:10.2987/8756-971x-28.4.10. ISSN 8756-971X. PMID 23401941. S2CID 31007129.
  5. ^ a b Turell, MJ (2012). "Members of the Culex pipiens complex as vectors of viruses". Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. 28 (4 Suppl): 123–6. doi:10.2987/8756-971X-28.4.123. PMID 23401952.
  6. ^ Arensburger, P.; Megy, K.; Waterhouse, R. M.; Abrudan, J.; Amedeo, P.; Antelo, B.; Bartholomay, L.; Bidwell, S.; Caler, E.; Camara, F.; Campbell, C. L.; Campbell, K. S.; Casola, C.; Castro, M. T.; Chandramouliswaran, I.; Chapman, S. B.; Christley, S.; Costas, J.; Eisenstadt, E.; Feschotte, C.; Fraser-Liggett, C.; Guigo, R.; Haas, B.; Hammond, M.; Hansson, B. S.; Hemingway, J.; Hill, S. R.; Howarth, C.; Ignell, R.; Kennedy, R. C.; Kodira, C. D.; Lobo, N. F.; Mao, C.; Mayhew, G.; Michel, K.; Mori, A.; Liu, N.; Naveira, H.; Nene, V.; Nguyen, N.; Pearson, M. D.; Pritham, E. J.; Puiu, D.; Qi, Y.; Ranson, H.; Ribeiro, J. M. C.; Roberston, H. M.; Severson, D. W.; Shumway, M.; Stanke, M.; Strausberg, R. L.; Sun, C.; Sutton, G.; Tu, Z.; Tubio, J. M. C.; Unger, M. F.; Vanlandingham, D. L.; Vilella, A. J.; White, O.; White, J. R.; Wondji, C. S.; Wortman, J.; Zdobnov, E. M.; Birren, B.; Christensen, B. M.; Collins, F. H.; Cornel, A.; Dimopoulos, G.; Hannick, L. I.; Higgs, S.; Lanzaro, G. C.; Lawson, D.; Lee, N. H.; Muskavitch, M. A. T.; Raikhel, A. S.; Atkinson, P. W. (2010). "Sequencing of Culex quinquefasciatus Establishes a Platform for Mosquito Comparative Genomics". Science. 330 (6000): 86–88. doi:10.1126/science.1191864. PMC 3740384. PMID 20929810.
  7. ^ a b Guagliard, Sarah Anne J.; Levine, Rebecca S. (August 2021). "Etymologia: Culex quinquefasciatus". Emerg Infect Dis. 27 (8): 2041. doi:10.3201/eid2708.et2708. PMC 8314802. Retrieved September 2, 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ "Brown House Mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus)". Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Culex Mosquito Life Cycle | CDC". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022-07-12. Retrieved 2023-07-15.
  10. ^ a b Prada, Paulo (2016). "Research indicates another common mosquito may be able to carry Zika". Reuters.
  11. ^ a b "Culex quinquefasciatus (southern house mosquito)". Invasive Species Compendium. CAB International. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Southern house mosquito – Culex quinquefasciatus Say". Featured Creatures. University of Florida. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  13. ^ Kathy Keatley Garvey. 2016. "Are Culex Mosquitoes Potential Vectors of the Zika Virus?", Bug Squad, Happenings in the Insect World, March 2, 2016.
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  15. ^ Farajollahi, Ary; Fonseca, Dina M.; Kramer, Laura D.; Marm Kilpatrick, A. (October 2011). ""Bird biting" mosquitoes and human disease: A review of the role of Culex pipiens complex mosquitoes in epidemiology". Infection, Genetics and Evolution. 11 (7): 1577–1585. doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2011.08.013. PMC 3190018. PMID 21875691.
  16. ^ Sandhu, Tejbir S.; Williams, Gregory W.; Haynes, Bryan W.; Dhillon, Major S. (2013). "Population dynamics of blood-fed female mosquitoes and comparative efficacy of resting boxes in collecting them from the northwestern part of riverside county, California". Journal of Global Infectious Diseases. 5 (1): 15–18. doi:10.4103/0974-777X.107168. ISSN 0974-777X. PMC 3628227. PMID 23599612.

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