BACKGROUND: Despite their importance as vectors of zoonotic parasites that can impact human and animal health, Culicoides species distribution across different habitat types is largely unknown. Here we document the community composition of Culicoides found in an urban environment including developed and natural sites in east central Texas, a region of high vector diversity due to subtropical climates, and report their infection status with haemoparasites. RESULTS: A total of 251 individual Culicoides were collected from May to June 2016 representing ten Culicoides species, dominated by C. neopulicaris followed by C. crepuscularis. We deposited 63 sequences to GenBank among which 25 were the first deposition representative for six Culicoides species: C. arboricola (n = 1); C. nanus (n = 4); C. debilipalpis (n = 2); C. haematopotus (n = 14); C. edeni (n = 3); and C. hinmani (n = 1). We also record for the first time the presence of C. edeni in Texas, a species previously known to occur in the Bahamas, Florida and South Carolina. The urban environments with natural area (sites 2 and 4) had higher species richness than sites more densely populated or in a parking lot (sites 1 and 3) although a rarefaction analysis suggested at least two of these sites were not sampled sufficiently to characterize species richness. We detected a single C. crepuscularis positive for Onchocercidae gen. sp. DNA and another individual of the same species positive for Haemoproteus sacharovi DNA, yielding a 2.08% prevalence (n = 251) for both parasites in this species. CONCLUSIONS: We extend the knowledge of the Culicoides spp. community in an urban environment of Texas, USA, and contribute to novel sequence data for these species. Additionally, the presence of parasite DNA (Onchocercidae gen. sp. and H. sacharovi) from C. crepuscularis suggests the potential for this species to be a vector of these parasites.
- Biting MidgesAvian HostsOnchocercidaeHaemosporidaVector-parasite AssociationIntegrative Taxonomy