The arbovirus vector Culex torrentium is more prevalent than Culex pipiens in northern and central Europe

J. C. Hesson*, F. Rettich, E. Merdić, G. Vignjević, Ö Östman, M. Schäfer, F. Schaffner, R. Foussadier, G. Besnard, Jolyon Medlock, E. J. Scholte, J. O. Lundström

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Two species of arbovirus vector, Culex torrentium and Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae), occur in several European countries, but difficulties in their accurate identification and discrimination have hampered both detailed and large-scale distribution and abundance studies. Using a molecular identification method, we identified to species 2559 larvae of Cx. pipiens/torrentium collected from 138 sites in 13 European countries ranging from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean coast. In addition, samples of 1712 males of Cx. pipiens/torrentium collected at several sites in the Czech Republic were identified to species based on the morphology of their hypopygia. We found that the two species occur together in large areas of Europe, and that Cx. torrentium dominates in northern Europe and Cx. pipiens dominates south of the Alps. The transition in dominance occurs in central Europe, where both species are roughly equally common. There was a strong correlation between the length of the growing season at different sites and occurrences of the two species. As the growing season increases, the proportion and detection of Cx. torrentium decrease, whereas those of Cx. pipiens increase. The present findings have important consequences for the interpretation of the results of studies on major enzootic and link-vectors of mosquito-borne bird-associated viruses (i.e. Sindbis, West Nile and Usutu viruses), especially in central Europe and Scandinavia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Abundance
  • Culex pipiens
  • Culex torrentium
  • Distribution
  • Europe
  • Sindbis
  • Usutu
  • West Nile


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