Ada County Weed Pest and Mosquito Abatement
The images below highlight key physical differences between mosquito species. You can also see the identfying features of the Culex mosquito - the primary carrier of the West Nile virus in Ada County. Scroll below the images to learn more about identifying mosquitoes.
Palpi are appendages that border the proboscis (the elongated appendage with which mosquitoes bite their victims). Some mosquito species have short palpi, others have long. The length of the palpi is also used to quickly identify whether the mosquito is male or female.
A quick way to distinguish between mosquito species is by looking at the abdomen. A key distinguishing feature is whether the abdomen is pointed or blunt. The Culex species has a blunt abdomen. Banding is also a way to identify a mosquito species. You can see examples of different abdominal banding in the images above.
Experts can distinguish between mosquito species by noticing the banding on the insect's tarsals (legs). Some species have no banding, or color differences throughout the entire leg. Others have banding at all or some of leg joints.
The thorax has many characteristics used in mosquito identification; whether there are bristles on the sides of the thorax, the color of the thorax, whether the thorax is scaly, and the size or location of the spiracle (a breathing opening found in insects).
Experts can look at the wing structure and color to identify mosquito species. Identifying features include the wing color, texture and the pattern of the wing scales.