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Culex territans Walker
Family: Culicidae
Species account author: Peter Belton.
Extracted from The Mosquitoes of British Columbia (1983)


© Lisa Poirier     (Photo ID #10645)


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Distribution of Culex territans in British Columbia in British Columbia
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Species Information

A very small brown mosquito with dark unbanded tarsi and diagnostic narrow white apical bands on the abdominal tergites; wing length 3-3.3 mm.


Proboscis long, brown-scaled. Palps short, black. Pedicels brown with a few white scales mediodorsally. Scutum with pale brown scales, a pair of indefinite pale spots near centre, and two indistinct lines, bare of scales, either side of the midline. Abdominal tergites with narrow white apical bands widening laterally. Wing scales black.


Antennae as long as head, spiculate to constriction, 1-A large. Head setae 5 and 6-C 1 or 2-branched, 5-C shorter than 6-C. 35 or more comb scales in a patch. Siphon very long and slender, 6 x 1, tapering nearly to tip then slightly flared; pecten on basal third, 5 many-branched setae beyond it, not always in line. Saddle surrounding anal segment, strongly spiculate dorsoapically.

Glossary of Terms [PDF]

Genus Description

Linnaeus used culex, the Latin word for mosquito when he described the common house mosquito, Culex pipiens. All mosquitoes described in the following 50 years were placed in this genus. In 1818 Meigen decided that there were at least two other major types of mosquito, which he therefore renamed and placed in the genera Anopheles and Aedes. Only three Culex species, one of which is pipiens, are known to occur in British Columbia.

The pale cuticle gives the adults an overall brown colour. The females can readily be separated from those of Anopheles by the short palps and trilobed scutellum, from those of Aedes by the blunt abdomen and from Culiseta and Mansonia females by the absence of both pre- and postspiracular setae.

Eggs are laid in rafts on the surface of almost any standing water.

Larvae have a long narrow respiratory siphon with a short pecten at the base composed of rather small teeth. The siphon lacks basal seta 1-S, but four or more pairs of branched setae arise ventrally beyond the pecten.

Pupae should be kept alive and allowed to emerge.

All our species overwinter as fertilized females and can produce several generations a year.


Species Information

This is another species which has been called several different names in British Columbia - saxatilis is a synonym of territans; apicalis is now applied to a similar species that occurs in the southwestern States and testaceous, now considered a synonym of Ma. perturbans, was wrongly used for territans in a number of papers by Dyar and Hearle.

The larvae breed in permanent pools and swamps, grassy ditches and borrow pits, but do not develop in polluted water. Females overwinter in mammal burrows and under logs and rock piles. It has been found across the south of the Province, but nowhere in large numbers. It seldom bites man, preferring to take blood from amphibians.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Unknown/UndeterminedS5No StatusNot Listed

BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Notes

"This species is widely distributed in BC but has nowhere been seen or persuaded to bite a mammal. It is occasionally infected, perhaps from a bird or reptile but its preferred hosts are amphibians" (Belton 2007, used with permission). No competence for West Nile Virus is reported (Belton 2007).


Belton, Peter. 2007. British Columbia mosquitoes as vectors of West Nile virus. Peter Belton web site. Simon Fraser University.

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