• Simuliidae;
  • Simulium galeratum;
  • Simulium reptans;
  • cytochrome oxidase 1;
  • DNA barcoding;
  • molecular taxonomy

Abstract Since 1920 Simulium reptans (Linnaeus) (Diptera: Simuliidae) has been reported as exhibiting two different larval morphotypes, a typical S. reptans and an atypical S. reptans var. galeratum, which differ in the markings of the larval head capsule. Inconsistent variation in adults and no apparent variation in the pupae have led taxonomists to conclude that these types in Britain are a single species. We investigated populations in Britain where either the typical form or var. galeratum is found, and one population where the two exist sympatrically. A phylogenetic study based upon a region of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 gene (DNA barcoding) produced a tree that delineated the morphotypes into two distinct monophyletic clades. The average Kimura-2-parameter distances within each clade (i.e. within each morphotype) were very low (0.67% and 0.78%), with the distances between morphotypes being 9−10-fold greater (mean 7.06%). This is concordant with differences within and between species in other taxa; based upon the strict correlation between the molecular variation and the morphotypes, we propose the re-instatement of S. galeratum to species status.