Culex adults


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These larvae began appearing in my tire traps around the second week of June.   I grew them into adults before trying to identify them.  One of them was found on the rim of the bathtub, having evidently gotten burned on the lightbulb overhead, or electrocuted on the wires, which used to happen to ants regularly.

These are photos from online of Culex mosquitoes, mostly Culex quinquefasciatus.   The Culex mosquitoes look pretty similar, and Alex Wild at UT's entomology lab didn't want to key them because it is hard to key Culex mosquitoes.   While culex pipiens (in the northern part of North America) and culex quinquefasciatus (in the southern part of North America and much of the rest of the world) are found breeding in small containers like tires and cemetery flower vases, far more often than other Culex species, it isn't unusual for several other species to be found there.   All of these species carry the same diseases; West Nile virus, other forms of encephalistis, equine encephalitis, and dog heartworm.   From a health standpoint, it is not very important to pin down mosquito identification past the genus Culex.

This mosquito, which is perfectly identical to those below, appeared on a forum discussion on identifying a Culex nigripalpus.  It wears the file name Culex quinquefasciatus but appeared to be identified in the post as Culex nigripalpus.  

But the same photo is found in a discussion of Culex quinquefasciatus at New South Wales (Australia) Arbovirus Surveillance & Vector Monitoring Program

It's author, Richard C. Russell, an entomologist in Australia, says it is his photo, and it is Culex quinquefasciatus.   

Specifically, the pattern on the abdomen, the general coloring, the color of the head, "nose" and proboscis and palp is the same, and the color pattern on the legs is the same.   

I named him, Tinkerbelle.   This is the guy who fell on the bathtub.

I don't have many views of the back of the abdomen; this corresponds to the back of the abdomen for quinquefasciatus on the military pictorial key images below.


The lone seta behind the row of setae and white patches is present on all of these mosquitoes.   The WRBU keys aren't clear on whether this is characteristic of Culex quinquefasciatus or all Culex.   

From keys; to identify genus Culex:

Proboscis not strongly recurved downward (and not a particularly large mosquito)

Palps shorter than proboscis

Abdominal segments have pale bands or spots, no distinct line separating dark dorsal and pale ventral scales.

No iridescent blue scales on thorax, scutum and wing.  

Apex of abdomen bluntly rounded

Base of wing vaein does not have setae, and postspiractular setae are not present or don't resemble a patch of blond hair.  (Would partially surround a round area on the side of the thorax.)

Wingscales mostly narrow and dark, atleast at base of wing.

Anetnnae not longer than proboscis; 1st flagellar segment not longer than other segments on the antennae


From Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, Adult Quick Key

One other thing; in Culex, the palps are funny.  "In culex, palps in the female are very short; palps in the male one and half times as long as the proboscis."(Reinhold Friedrich Ruge, Introduction to the Study of Malarial Diseases, Google books, found by google for "culex males long palps".   Really if you look carefully at my mosquitoes below, you would wonder if the males and females, which otherwise look pretty identical, belong to the same genus!


Here are the keys for some common Culex species:

Culex nigripalpus (more important in Florida for West Nile virus than quinquefasciatus, found throughout U.S. , central, South America)

From armed forces key:

Culex quinquefasciatus

Culex pipiens (found throughout U.S. or else throughout northern Northern America with Culex quinquefasciatus territory distinct)

Culex restuans



Culex salinarius appears throughout Indiana and feeds on humans more often than do the Culex restuans and Culex pipiens. The females of this species are covered by narrow, golden-brown scales. The abdomen is blunt and the proboscis is dark-scaled. The legs are dark and the posterior surfaces of the tibia and femur are pale.

Culex tarsalis is a black mosquito distinguished by a white band on its proboscis, as well as white bands on its tarsal joints. It also has white longitudinal stripes extending along the middle and hind legs, and dark chevron patterns along the underside of its abdominal segments.  Competes with Culex salinarius.

Culex territans is found in a wide variety of clear water habitats that support grassy stands of emergent vegetation. The species is occasionally found in containers but cannot tolerate even moderate levels of pollution.




Culex tititans

Culex atratux - coastal

Culex salinarius  

Culex tarsalis


Culex coronator new invasive mosqiuto

Culex stigmatosoma


Mosquito  identification resources

University of Texas at El Paso Mosquito Identification web site.   Easy to follow slide show key to identifying mosquito genera, larvae and adults.   

Wikipedia article on mosquitoes, with general discussion of mosquito biology and anatomy charts of larvae and adults.   

Waterwereld: The common house mosquito   Biology of mosquitoes, usefulness for fish food, usefulness of fish for mosquito control, diagram of mosquito larva anatomy.   It is controversial whether the common and southern house mosquitoes are subspecies of Culex pipiens.   However they share the ability to carry West Nile virus and other forms of encephalitis.

Mosquitoes:  Characteristics of Anophelines and Culicines.  Kent S Littig and Chester J Stojanovich.  Focuses on Anopeles, Aedes, and Culex (the three primary genera of medical importance in the U.S.)

Mosquitoes:  Characteristics of Anophelines and Culicines.  Kent S Littig and Chester J Stojanovich.  Focuses on Anopeles, Aedes, and Culex (the three primary genera of medical importance in the U.S.)  Same document from   

Pictorial keys for the identification of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) associated with Dengue Virus Transmission   Exclusive key to Aedes species, but includes actual pictures of what scales, combs and hooks look like.  

Workbook on the Identification of Mosquito Larvae.   Pratt, harry D and others.   Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia.   Basic and detailed enough for a student to easily follow.  

Classification and Identification of Mosquitoes of New Mexico

A Handbook of the Mosquitoes of the Southeastern United States.   King, Bradley, Smith & McDuffie.  Agriculture Handbook No. 173, Agriculture Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.  Very detailed text on mosquito collection and identification.  

Mosquitoes of the southeastern United States.  Burkett-Cadena, Nathan D.  (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2013) UT Life Science Library, QL 536 B916 2013.   Parts can be previewed at Amazon.   Someone on the Texas entomology listserve recommended this book.

Key characters for larval Aedes spp.  identification in California.   California Department of Public Health.   Photos of what anatomical features, such as hooks, look like.     

Identification Guide to the Mosquitoes of Connecticut  Detailed key with detailed illustrations.  

Identification Guide to Adult Female Mosquitoes of Saginaw County - photos of what the features look like.

Mosquito Identification Guide: Larval Quick Key  University of Florida, Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.  

Mosquito Identification Guide: Adult Quick Key  University of Florida, Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

Photographic Guide to Common Mosquitoes of Florida   University of Florida, Florida Entomology Laboratory

SOUTHCOM Mosquito Genera Identification Key  U.S. Army Public Health Center.  For central and South America, but evidently there isn't one for North America.

Aedes larvae  Clear color photographs with distinguishing features of Aedes larvae

Aedes Albopictus Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, University of Florida  Clear photos showing anatomomical features like scales and hooks

Aedes Aegypti  Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, University of Florida  Clear photos showing anatomomical features like scales and hooks

Aedes Larval Picture Key  California Department of Health web site.  Photos instead of drawings, for three Aedes species.  

A rapid identification guide for larvae of the most common North American container-inhabiting Aedes species of medical importance.   Ary Farajolahi and Dana C Price.  Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 29(3):  203-221, 2013.  

Culex quinquefasciatus (Southern/ Common house mosquito, very similar to Culex pipiens and arguably a subspecies) Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, University of Florida  Clear photos showing anatomomical features like scales and hooks, of larvae

The other main genera of mosquitoes are represented on this web site as well.

Culex quinquefasciatus  APHC Entomological Sciences Mosqiuto Species Page, shows in clear photographs, all of the fine anatomical detail necessary to identify this species.

Mosquito species pages/ training aids, Army Public Health Center (under training aids)

Species pages and keys with terms, Army Public Health Center

Walter Reed Biosystemacits Unit interactive key

Culex quinquefasciatus  Wikipedia   Describes relationship between Culex quinquefasciatus, the southern house mosquito, and Culex pipiens.   

Crowdwourcing for large-scale mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) sampling.   Elin C. Maki, Lee W. Cohnstaedt.  Report on an earlier generation of the North American Mosquito Project, by the USDA.  Citizen science project that addresses the failure of local agencies to track mosquitoes.  Lists the agencies that helped them with their work.  The word Texas is notably missing from the list.  

Citizen-scientists:  Uncle Sam wants you to fight Zika!  The Invasive Mosquito Project.   New incarnation of the North American Mosquito Project.  The USDA and CDC are attempting to use citizen egg, larva and adult mosquito efforts to compensate for the poor job local agencies around the country are doing monitoring mosquitoes, especially disease-bearing invasive species like Aedes aegypti and albopictus.  

Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit  U.S. military public resource on medically important arthropods, includes several kinds of pictorial and interactive identification keys