Pests > Pests Entities > Insects > Sandflies > Ceratopogonidae, Pacific islands

Pests > Pests Entities > Insects > Sandflies > Ceratopogonidae, Pacific islands

Pests Pests Entities Insects Sandflies Ceratopogonidae, Pacific islands


November 2002. A member asked for information on the species of Phlebotomidae and of Culicoides (Ceratopogonidae) present in the Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (distribution, literature, specialist contacts, medical and veterinary importance, etc).

There were many replies giving names and addresses of those who were experts on the group, including places in the region where specimens had been collected.

According to Quate (1959): Synopsis of Poynesian Psychodidae, Pacific Insects 1:431-440), the subfamily Phlebotominae does not occur on “oceanic islands”. See Quate (1959) Diptera: Psychodidae, Insects of Micronesia 12:435-484).

Culicoides do occur in the Pacific, see Wirth and Arnaud (1969): Polynesian biting midges of the genus Culicoides, Pacific Insects 11(3-4):507-520). Culicoides belkini Wirth & Arnaud, is a significant pest of people. Linley, Hoch and Pinheiro (1983): Journal of Medical Entomology 20:347-364) give a review on the medical importance of the Ceratopogonidae.

There are various text books on medical entomology e.g. Insects and other arthropods of medical importance, ed. K Smith, published by Trustees of the British Museum 1973, which give good general reviews of the medical importance of these insects. With regard to veterinary importance, St George (1986) Arboviruses infecting livestock in the Australasian region, Arbovirus Research in Australia: Proceedings of the fourth Symposium pp. 23-25, CSIRO and QIMR, Brisbane) gave an overview of arboviruses associated with Culicoides brevitarsis in cattle in the southeast Australasian/Pacific regions and Dyce (1982): Distribution of Culicoides (Avaritia) spp. west of the Pacific Ocean, Arbovirus Research in Australia – Proceedings of the third Symposium, CSIRO and QIMR, Brisbane) listed the occurence of arbovirus vectors in the western Pacific.

Cook Islands tried to get images of Culicoides belkini for the Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, but was unable to, even from the website for the international network of Ceratopogonidae workers. However, a recent visit to Manihi in the Tuamotus, the respondent was “bitten alive”, but able to get a few images of Culicoides belkini. Even with antihistamine and steroid cream the intense itchiness continued for about
four days, and it took about two weeks of the inflammation to disappear.

Referring to the photos, it can be seen that the wing pattern (an important specific character for many species of Culicoides) on your photos is consistent with that figured of C belkini by Wirth and Arnaud (1969): Pacific Insects 11:507-520). Unfortunately, confirmation requires examination of female antennal sensory organs or male genitalia. Wirth & Arnaud recorded this species from several localities on Tahiti, Tetiaroa (42 km north of Tahiti), Bora Bora and, possibly, also Samoa. They were of the opinion that this is the major, if not only, human feeding species in the Pacific.