Original Research

Comparative descriptions of the pupae of five species of the Culicoides imicola complex (Diptera, Ceratopogonidae) from South Africa

Hilda Nevill, G.J. Venter, R. Meiswinkel, E.M. Nevill
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 74, No 2 | a130 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v74i2.130 | © 2007 Hilda Nevill, G.J. Venter, R. Meiswinkel, E.M. Nevill | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 September 2007 | Published: 13 September 2007

About the author(s)

Hilda Nevill,
G.J. Venter,
R. Meiswinkel,
E.M. Nevill,

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The viruses causing the economically important livestock diseases of African horse sickness (AHS) and bluetongue (BT) are transmitted by biting midges of the genus Culicoides (Diptera, Cerato po gonidae). In the Old World the most important vectors of these diseases are Culicoides imicola Kieffer, 1913, Culicoides brevitarsis Kieffer, 1917 and Culicoides bolitinos Meiswinkel, 1989. All three of these vectors belong to the Imicola complex of the subgenus Avaritia Fox, 1955. This species complex now comprises 12 sibling species; ten occur in sub-Saharan Africa and are difficult to identify (based mostly on subtle variations in the wing patterns) and so additional methods of reliable identification are needed. The pupal exuviae of the five commonest sibling species (C. imicola, C. bolitinos, Culicoides loxodontis Meiswinkel, 1992, Culicoides tuttifrutti Meiswinkel, Cornet & Dyce, 2003 and Culicoides sp. # 107) harvested from a variety of large herbivore dung types and from decaying fruits, are described and illustrated in detail. It is shown that they can be differentiated clearly on a number of morphological characters and, furthermore, are separable into two distinct groups based (principally) on the shape of the respiratory organ. A key for identifying and differentiating these five pupae is provided. Also, the pupa of the Oriental-Australasian C. brevitarsis was compared with its allopatric sister taxon, C. bolitinos. Because they share a common larval habitat (cattle and buffalo dung) and are almost inseparable in the adult phenotype, the question of their possible synonymy is raised. However, their respective pupae could not be differentiated on gross morphology and so it is argued that this unresolved problem requires a molecular solution.


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