The Culex, West Nile Mosquito

Carl Linnaeus named this genus of mosquito (and the West Nile Mosquito). The Latin term for Culex derives from midge or gnat.

Life Cycle:

The life cycle of the mosquito is much the same as the Aedes Albopictus. A few differences are:

  • The Culex mosquito prefers to feed on birds and will bite them first every time over a human. In situations without birds, they will feed on a human (this is where the West Nile virus got its start and why we call it the West Nile Mosquito).
  • The female mosquito will lay her eggs in rafts of 100 or more eggs. She will lay these eggs anywhere from lakes, buckets, to even sewage cesspools.

 

Anatomy:

The anatomy of the Culex is in the General Mosquito Anatomy Blog. Some slight differences/specifications are:

  • The West Nile Mosquito is a very weak flier. It will not fly very far from its breeding ground like other mosquitoes.
  • The Anopheles and Culex mosquito look very similar in appearance. Major identifiers to look for are the palps and the way the mosquito sits when resting. A West Nile Mosquito has palps as long as the proboscis and sits with its abdomen high in the air. A Culex has tiny palps and sits horizontally against the surface.
  • As shown in the picture to the left, there are a few differences when identifying the Culex mosquito.

Diseases:

The Anopheles mosquito is responsible for carrying and transmitting Malaria. This mosquito handles over one million deaths each year from transmitting Malaria.

The Aedes mosquito as discussed in the Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus blogs manages Dengue Fever, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Yellow Fever (Ae. Aegypti transmits Dengue and Yellow Fever, and Albopictus transmits Dengue and Equine Encephalitis).

The West Nile Mosquito is responsible for carrying and transmitting the West Nile virus. Find other diseases Mosquitoes carry at our Mosquitoes are the World’s #1 Killer post.

West Nile:

West Nile is a very scary virus that can cause fatal neurological disease in humans. The host of the West Nile virus is birds. The virus spreads to humans through mosquito bites. There is a large outbreak of the West Nile in areas where birds migrate. A bird can circulate the virus in its blood for a few days. If the bird is bitten by a mosquito in that timeframe it can pick up the virus. Once the mosquito has the virus in its system, it can transmit it to anything else it bites. It is common for horses to receive West Nile virus and die from the transmission.

Almost 80% of the humans infected with the virus will not have any symptoms. The other 20% will develop West Nile fever. The common symptoms are fever; headaches; tiredness; body aches; nausea; vomiting; skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. Experts have estimated that 1 in 150 persons infected with West Nile will develop a more severe form of the virus. People over 50 years old or immunocompromised persons are at the highest risk of being severely ill.

The average incubation period is 3 to 14 days.

While there is not a vaccine for humans there is a vaccine for horses.