Sydney University Department of Medical Entomology Westmead Hospital
The Department

This is the only Medical Entomology department in Australia and as such serves as the de facto National Reference Laboratory for insects and other arthropods of medical and public health importance.

The Department has four functions:

Diagnostic procedures (including reference facilities);

Research and surveillance of vectors and vector-borne pathogens;


Consultation and advisory services for public health and independent

Diagnostic procedures.

The diagnostic laboratory provides an identification facility for all arthropods associated with human health and welfare, and the detection of arthropod-borne pathogens in likely vectors. The laboratory provides a service for advice on eradication, control or prevention of infestations of arthropods of concern to human health.


Specimen Type Example
Personal pests Lice, Fleas, Bedbugs, Ticks, Scabies mites.
Biting insects Mosquitoes, Biting midges (sandflies), Blackflies, March Flies, Stable Flies.
Pathogen infection Arboviruses in mosquitoes or other biting flies.
Venomous arthropods Bees, ants, wasps, spiders, scorpions, caterpillars.
Household pests Cockroaches, flies, ants, book lice, bird mites, rodent mites, dust mites and mites from stored products.
Myiasis (fly) Maggots of local or exotic origin.


Research and surveillance of vectors and vector-borne pathogens.

Our research focuses on the biology, ecology and disease involvement of insects, particularly mosquitoes and mosquito-borne pathogens such as the arboviruses. Recently we have investigated the ecology of mosquitoes in freshwater and saline wetlands, and the competence of particular mosquito species for various arboviruses and dog heartworm, and investigations associated with biting midges and ticks have also been undertaken (see "The Projects").

Teaching, Consultation and advisory services for public health and independent sources.

We maintain comprehensive reference collections for educational purposes. Our staff are involved in teaching various aspects of the biology and control of arthropod pests and vectors, and the epidemiology and control of vector-borne disease to various clients. This includes the University of Sydney, the University of NSW, The University of Technology Sydney, the University of Western Sydney, The Australian National University, The University of Queensland, James Cook University and to health and health-related professionals, and technicians from various state and local authorities.

We provide a consultative service for the investigation and reporting of insect/habitat situations with actual or potential health implications, e.g. natural or constructed wetlands colonised by mosquitoes near residential developments, and domestic or industrial mite or insect infestations.

Our director (Assoc. Prof. Richard Russell) acts as a consultant to federal, state and local health authorities, the registrar of pesticides, other government and independent authorities, natural resource interests and environment groups. He has also acted as a consultant for international health authorities (WHO, AIDAB, Institut Pasteur) in 12 countries in Asia, the Pacific and South America.

The Department is part of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research in Arbovirus Infections.

Department Hours

The staff have extensive expertise in all areas of medical entomology and are happy to discuss any area of concern with clients. Our laboratory hours are 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Results are available through Customer Service on (02) 9845-6600 from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

If you require any advice or assistance, or additional information regarding our department and its services please see 'Contacts' for further information.

top of page