Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 76, 1946-47
This text is also available in PDF
(259 KB) Opens in new window
– 158 –

A Ceratopogonine Midge (Culicoides anophelis Edwards, 1922) sucking engorged Blood from a Mosquito (Armigeres lacuum Edwards, 1922) at Palmalmal, New Britain.

[Received by Editor, July 3, 1946.]

Issued separately as Bulletin No. 3, Royal New Zealand Air Force Entomological Surveys, South-west Pacific, 1945. Authorised by Chief of Air Staff.

This record was made in the course of a collection of day-biting mosquitoes in shady jungle at Palmalmal, New Britain, on the afternoon of 23rd August, 1945.

A mosquito was observed to be flying slowly and in unusually erratic fashion about 3 ft. from the ground. It was captured, and proved to be an engorged female of Armigeres lacuum Edwards. A ceratopogonine midge was in the act of biting this mosquito, its mouth-parts penetrating the lateral part of the fourth abdominal segment of its host. The abdomen of the midge was distended with blood, which showed through the cuticle as a reddish mass.

Both insects were chloroformed and preserved in formalin. Even after death the ceratopogonid remained in the biting position, so firmly were its mouth-parts embedded in the tissues of the mosquito. The midge was subsequently identified as a female Culicoides anophelis Edwards (Edwards, 1922). The figure was drawn from the preserved specimens, and shows the appearance of the engorged midge. The distal part of the latter's proboscis is buried in the side of the mosquito's abdomen.

C. anophelis has not previously been reported from the Australian Region. Earlier records of attacks on mosquitoes by this insect are from India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya (type), Indo-China, and Sumatra. The records to date are summarised in Table 1, in so far as attacks on identified mosquitoes are concerned. Other accounts of such attacks are those of Fearnside (1900), who reported a Culicoides as biting an unidentified Culex at Rajahmundry Gaol, India; Rutherford (Knab, 1914) and Carter (1927), who collected Culicoides (queried by Carter as C. anophelis) from several species of Anopheles in Ceylon; and Stanton (Edwards, 1922), who obtained C. anophelis from an unspecified host at Deli, Sumatra.

– 159 –

Ceratopogonidae have been seen to attack many other kinds of insects in addition to mosquitoes. The literature on the subject was reviewed by Knab (1914, 1914a) and Edwards (1920, 1922, 1923). Edwards draws the distinction between cases of predacity and those of simple blood-sucking in these attacks. He places cases in which small insects are killed by being sucked dry, in the former category. Such attacks as those of Culicoides on mosquitoes and other insects much larger than itself seldom result in the death of the victim, and Edwards refers to these as cases of blood-sucking.

Picture icon

Culicoides anophelis Edwards attacking Armigeres lacuum Edwards.

Lamborn's observations in Malaya (Edwards, 1922) draw attention to the fact that Ceratopogonidae have not been collected from male mosquitoes. There are in addition very few records of attacks on ungorged female mosquitoes. Several authors observe that midges collected from mosquitoes show a brown or pink trace of blood in their stomachs. Edwards (1922) concludes that the object of C. anophelis is to obtain not the body-fluids of the mosquito, but ingested blood.

– 160 –

As many as three specimens of C. anophelis have been found on one mosquito (Galliard and Gaschen, 1937). Lamborn (Edwards, 1922) and Galliard and Gaschen (1937) observe that midges may remain attached to the mosquito host for several hours without causing any apparent ill effects. However, Leon (1924) cites the case of an engorged female Anopheles maculipennis Meigen suffering from an external abdominal hernia at the site of a puncture made by a midge when the mosquito's stomach was empty.

The present instance is the second on record of an attack by Culicoides on a non-anopheline mosquito. The earlier observation is that made by Fearnside (1900) concerning a midge found biting an unidentified Culex. Thus it is established that C. anophelis does not restrict itself to Anopheles as a host.

Sinton (1925) mentions that there is no evidence that C. anophelis bites man. He suggests that if it should prove to do so this midge might become at least a potential mechanical carrier of Plasmodium. In view of the life-cycle of Plasmodium, it seems highly improbable that this could occur. It is more likely that C. anophelis might become a potential carrier of the virus that causes dengue fever, by feeding from a mosquito harbouring this organism. Further information concerning the habits of C. anophelis, particularly as to whether or not it is capable of biting man, is much to be desired.

Literature Cited.

Carter, H. F., Rustomjee, K. J., and Saravanamuttu, E. T., 1927. Report on Malaria and Anopheline Mosquitoes in Ceylon. Ceylon Sessional Paper, vii, 1–84.

Edwards, F. W., 1920. Some records of predaceous Ceretopogoninae (Diptera). Ent. Mo. Mag., 6, 203–205.

—— 1922. On some Malayan and other species of Culicoides, with a note on the genus Lasiohelea. Bull. Ent. Res., 13, 161–163.

—— 1923. New and old observations on Ceratopogonine midges attacking other insects. Ann. Trop. Med. and Parasit., 17, 19–29.

Fearnside, C. J., 1900. Parasites found on mosquitos. Ind. Med. Gaz., 35, 129–130.

Galliard, H., and Gaschen, H., 1937. Parasitisme d'Anopheles hyrcanus par les Culicoides au Tonkin. Ann. Parasit. hum. et comp., 15, 320–322.

Gravely, F. H., 1911. Mosquito sucked by a midge. Rev. Ind. Mus., 6, p. 45.

Knab, F., 1914. Ceratopogoninae sucking the blood of caterpillars. Proc. Ent. Soc. Wash., 16, 63–66.

—— 1914a. Ceratopogonidae sucking the blood of other insects. Ibid., 139–141.

Lalor, N. P. O'G., 1912. Note on a parasitic fly which infests malaria-carrying Anopheles in Lower Burma. Paludism (Simla), 5, 42–43.

Lamborn, W. A., 1920. In Federated Malay States Malaria Bureau Report.—supplement to F.M.S. Govt. Gaz., 4th Nov., 1921, 8–13.

Leon, N., 1924. Action des ectoparasites sur les Culicides. Ann. Parasit. hum. et comp., 2, 211–213.

Sinton, J. A., and Little, C. J. H., 1925. The Occurrence of Culicoides as an Ectoparasite of Anophelincs. Journ. R.A.M.C., 45, 45–47.

Smith, R. O. A., and Swaminath, C. S., 1932. Notes on some Culicoides from Assam. Ind. Med. Res. Mem., No. 25, 182–186.

Stanton, A. T., 1912. A Ceratopogon parasitic upon anopheline mosquitoes. Paludism, 5, p. 64.

– 161 –
Moquitos known to have been attacked by Ceratopogonine Midges.
Mosquito attacked. Midge. Locality Date. Author.
Anopheles aconitus Dönitz, 1902 C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1920 Lamborn
C. anophelis Central Provinces India 1925 Sinton and Little
C. anophelis Assam, India 1932 Smith and Swaminath
Anopheles annularis van der Wulp, 1884 (=A. fuliginosus Giles) “Ceratopogonine midge” Lower Burma 1912 Lalor
C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1912 Stanton
C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1920 Lamborn
Anopheles hyrcanus nigerrimus Giles, 1900 C. anophelis Tonkin, Indo-China 1937 Galliard and Gaschen
Anopheles hyrcanus sinensis Wiedemann, 1828 C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1912 Stanton
C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1920 Lamborn
Anopheles karwari (James, 1903) C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1912 Stanton
C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1920 Lamborn
Anopheles maculatus (Anopheles m. maculatus Theobald, 1901?) C. anophelis Jalpaiguri, Lower India 1922 Edwards (Ivengar, 1921)
Anopheles maculipennis maculipennis Meigen, 1818 Culicoides Europe 1924 Leon
Anopheles vagus vagus Donitz, 1902 C. anophelis Kuala Lumpur, Fed. Malay States 1920 Lamborn
Armigeres lacuum Edwards, 1922 C. anophelis Palmalmal. New Britain 1945