Characterization of two cryptic species, Culicoides stigma and C.parroti (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae), based on barcode regions and morphology



Biting midges of the genus Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are insect vectors of economically important veterinary diseases such as African horse sickness, bluetongue, and Schmallenberg virus. The identification of Culicoides based on morphological features can be difficult. Three species of biting midges, Culicoides nubeculosus, C. stigma, and C. parroti have emerged in the laboratory from mud collected around watering troughs on a farm in northern France. Emerging Culicoides were characterized morphologically and molecularly using molecular markers. The closely related species C. stigma and C.parroti showed highly divergent sequences for both mitochondrial (cytochrome B and cytochrome oxidase I) and ribosomal DNA first internal transcribed spacer. A RFLP based on a single restriction using the same enzyme (HaeIII) for both cytochrome C oxidase I and cytochrome B is proposed to identify these species.