Culicoides is a genus of biting midges in the subfamily Ceratopogonidae. Around 500 species of Ceratopogonidae are at present placed in the genus and this is split into many subgenera. Several species are known to be vectors of various diseases and parasites which can affect animals.
Species incertae sedis include:
Adults are small dark insects about 1-3 mm long. The antennae are long (15 segments) densely haired in the males and less hairy in females. Females only suck blood. The Thorax is hooped and carries a pair of broad mottled wings. Only the first two longitudinal veins are distinct.
Biological habits: Females typically bite at dusk or dawn often in dense swarms and usually in the vicinity of water, marshes or rotting vegetations.
Life Cycle of culicoides: Females lay their eggs on mass in a range of habitats ranging from water vegetations, slow running streams, damp soil or manure heaps. These hatch into tiny smooth white larvae with four pairs of anal gills. Pupae consist of a fused cephalothorax with slender respiratory trumpets and a segmented abdomen. Adults emerge through a straight slit after 3-7 days.
The bite of Culicoides is felt as a sharp prick and is often followed by irritating lumps that may disappear in a few hours or last for days.
Different Culicoides species have been shown to be vectors for the following visruses and conditions: Mansonella spp. (M. ozzardi, M. perstans, M. streptocerca), Onchocerca gibsoni and O. cervicalis, Leukocytozoon, Plasmodium agamae, bluetongue virus, African horse sickness, bovine ephemeral fever (C. osystoma and C. nipponesis), Akabane virus and "Queensland itch".