Morpho-Taxonomy and Seasonal Prevalence of Culicoides Latreille, 1809 (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) in Sonamukhi Protected Forest, Bankura, West Bengal
Keywords:Culicoides, vector, ecology, prevalence, post-monsoon
Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae), popularly known as ‘biting midges’ play a significant role in transmission of pathogens to vertebrate animals- particularly livestock animals, humans, and birds causing severe diseases like Bluetongue (BT), Epizootic haemorrhagic disease (EHD), African horse sickness (AHS), Equine encephalitis (EE), etc. The present research focuses on morpho-taxonomy, ecological diversity, seasonal prevalence, and species abundance of Culicoides in different cattle farms and pastoral regions of Sonamukhi protected area, Bankura, West Bengal for three seasons (pre-monsoon, monsoon, and post-monsoon) from 2013 to 2015 in sixteen sampling sites. Taxonomic studies show four species under three subgenera - Avaritia: Culicoides actoni, C. imicola; Remmia: C. oxystoma; Hoffmania: C. peregrinus of genus Culicoides for the first time from Sonamukhi area. Ecological analyses show the highest species diversity (H =0.881) and species dominance maximum (D= 0.5179) in the post-monsoon, and species richness-maximum in monsoon (Dmg=0.6). Species relative abundance (pi =0.664), rank abundance curve and seasonal prevalence pattern shows-C. oxystoma as the most dominant species. This study provides a brief idea of the taxonomy, ecology, and seasonal prevalence of Culicoides species in the Sonamukhi Protected area, Bankura. The moderate rainfall and moist weather play an essential role in the development of this vector fly. Despite the area showing extreme weather conditions, the pre- and post-monsoon seasons are the ideal time and the species abundance to reach its highest seasonal peak. This research is a preliminary step which delivers insights into the taxonomy, ecological role, species diversity, seasonal abundance, and factors affecting the growth and survival of Culicoides, for its scientific direction in vector control strategies as well as conservation and management of livestock via proper monitoring and surveillance programs.