Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Culex pipiens - Northern House Mosquito

Northern House Mosquito? - side - Culex pipiens - female Northern House Mosquito - Culex pipiens - female Northern House Mosquito? - top - Culex pipiens - female green eyed Mosquito - Culex pipiens - female Mosquito - Culex pipiens - female mosquito - Culex pipiens Northern House Mosquito - Culex pipiens - female northern house mosquito - Culex pipiens - male
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon ("Nematocera" (Non-Brachycera))
Infraorder Culicomorpha (Mosquitoes and Midges)
Family Culicidae (Mosquitoes)
Tribe Culicini
Genus Culex
Species pipiens (Northern House Mosquito)
Pronunciation
PIP-ee-yenz
Explanation of Names
Culex pipiens Linnaeus 1758
Identification
Adult: Mostly plain light brown, lacking distinctive markings on the proboscis, legs, and wings; top of thorax lacks pale spots; female has pale whitish dorsal band at base of each abdominal segment
Larva: Moderately long siphon with 6-13 pecten teeth on basal third, 4-branched siphonal tufts (one of which is inserted laterally and not aligned with other three), and double-branched lateral setae on abdominal segments three and four
Range
n US above 36 degrees latitude, and s Canada
Habitat
Larvae develop in standing water, often in small containers such as bird baths, barrels, used tires, tin cans, etc. around urban and suburban homes.
Adults occur in these areas, with females taking bloodmeals at night, and sometimes entering homes in the fall in search of a sheltered place to overwinter.
Season
Adults occur from late spring through late fall.
Food
preferred hosts are American robins (1)
Adult females usually take blood from birds but may also feed on mammals (including humans and dogs); a bloodmeal is usually required for the development of eggs, but some populations are able to develop eggs without a bloodmeal - a process called autogeny
males do not bite; both sexes feed on plant juices.
Life Cycle
Overwinters as a fertilized adult female in sheltered areas such as culverts, caves, basements, crevices in hidden areas of homes and other buildings; multiple generations per year; a female may lay a "raft" of several hundred eggs on the surface of standing water several times during a life span of 40-50 days.
Remarks
Culex pipiens is the dominant enzootic (bird-to-bird) and bridge (bird-to-human) vector of WNV in urbanized areas in the northeast and north-central US (1)
It's also the most important vector Eastern Equine Encaphalitis (EEE) in the n US and s Canada.
See Also
Culex restuans is similar but usually has a pair of whitish or silvery spots on top of thorax, one spot on each side of midline (these spots are lacking in C. pipiens)
Internet References
live adult images plus distribution, hosts, habitat, and biology (Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control, Cotati, California)
live adult female image (San Mateo County Mosquito Abatement District, California)
preserved adult female image plus description and biology (South Dakota State U.)
close-up photos of abdomen and legs (South Dakota State U.)
overview of Culex pipiens species complex including description, distribution, and biology (Harry Savage and Barry Miller, Rutgers U.)
seasonality and hosts (A. Spielman, Harvard U.)