Biting rates of Culicoides midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) on sheep in northeastern Spain in relation to midge capture using UV light and carbon dioxide-baited traps

J Med Entomol. 2009 May;46(3):615-24. doi: 10.1603/033.046.0329.


Biting midges in the genus Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) were collected near sunset by direct aspiration from sheep in northeastern Spain to determine species-specific biting rates and crepuscular activity. Midges were also collected by UV-baited light traps and CO2-baited traps over the same period to compare species diversity and abundance using these common surveillance methods to actual sheep attack rates. Culicoides aspirated from sheep included C. obsoletus, C. parroti, C. scoticus, C. punctatus, and C. imicola. Peak host-seeking activity during the time period examined for the two most commonly collected species (C. obsoletus and C. parroti) occurred just before sunset and activity ceased within 1 h after sunset. Host attack rates near sunset averaged 0.9 midges/min for both species with maximum attack rates of 3/min for C. obsoletus and 4/min for C. parroti. For both species, approximately 35% of midges collected from the sheep were engorged, giving a maximum biting rate of 1.1/min for C. obsoletus and 1.5/min for C. parroti. Traps baited with CO2 collected fewer midges of each species relative to other collection methods. Traps baited with UV light provided a good indication of species richness but significantly underestimated the host attack rate of C. obsoletus and C. parroti while overestimating the host attack rate of C. imicola. Animal-baited collecting is critical to interpret the epidemiological significance of light trap collections used for surveillance of the midge vectors of bluetongue virus and African horse sickness virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ceratopogonidae*
  • Female
  • Insect Bites and Stings / epidemiology
  • Insect Bites and Stings / veterinary*
  • Insect Vectors*
  • Population Density
  • Sheep*
  • Spain
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Carbon Dioxide