The taxonomy and biology of two sympatric sibling species of Culex, C. pipiens and C. torrentium (Diptera, Culicidae)



The mosquito Culex torrentium Martini is a sibling species of C. pipiens L. and was first discovered in Britain in 1951. However, it is now evident that it was present in this country from at least 1900. Collections from a few southern localities in England indicate that the size of its population is about a third that of C. pipiens.

A comparative taxonomic study showed that neither the eggs nor larvae can be separated from those of C. pipiens, and that only in certain instances can the pupae of the two species be distinguished. Males are readily separated on the structure of the terminalia. Previously it was considered that C. torrentium could be distinguished by the presence of a pre-alar patch of scales, but it is shown that in a few specimens they are absent and in others they may become easily detached.

Larvae of both species frequently occur together in the same habitats, and no differences were observed in the biology of their immature stages. Serological tests showed that adults of both species feed on birds. Adult females of both species hibernate during the autumn, but whereas those of C. pipiens are common in man-made shelters, C. torrentium is absent.