NSW Arbovirus Surveillance & Vector Monitoring Program
Culex quinquefasciatus
Culex quinquefasciatus

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Characteristic Features

Female: Medium-sized mosquito of brownish appearance; proboscis dark but often with some pale scaling midway on the underside; scutum with golden and bronzy narrow scales; wings all dark scaled; hind legs with femur pale almost to the tip except for dark scales along length dorsally, remainder of legs all dark scaled except for pale patch at tibial-tarsal joint; abdominal tergites dark scaled with pale basal bands constricted laterally and not merging with lateral patches except perhaps on terminal segments, sternites generally pale scaled but with a few to more dark scales scattered medially. (Click here for a large photograph of the adult), (Click here for an image of the larva).

Similar Species

Adult females may be confused with Cx. australicus (usually more pale scaling on underside of proboscis and more dark scaling on sternites but it will not be possible to separate some specimens), Cx. molestus and Cx. globocoxitus (tergal bands not constricted laterally), Cx. cylindricus and Cx. orbostiensis (smaller species with sparser wing scaling).

Geographic Distribution

NSW (widespread), Vic (less common south of central highlands), SA, (also Qld, NT, WA); typically closely associated with human habitation, particularly urban.

Habits & Habitats

Adults are generally active only during the warmer months; they usually attack humans towards the middle of the night indoors and outdoors, but are often more attracted to birds (e.g. poultry).

Vector & Pest Status

This is the major domestic pest in many urban areas, particularly as indicated by indoor biting (although the similar Cx. molestus must be considered in some southern areas); with respect to human disease it has been shown to be able to carry Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus in laboratory studies, MVE virus has been isolated from the species in northern WA, it has yielded an isolate of Ross River (RR) virus during an outbreak in New Caledonia, but from a number of laboratory studies in Australia it appears to be a poor and unlikely vector of MVE, Kunjin, RR and other arboviruses; it is a vector (not particularly efficient) of dog heartworm (and human filariasis in more northern tropical regions), an important vector of fowl pox, and possibly involved in myxomatosis transmission in some areas.

modified from: Russell, R.C. (1996). A colour photo atlas of mosquitoes of
Southeastern Australia
. Medical Entomology, Westmead Hospital.

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