Skip to main content

Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory

Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory

Is it Culex tarsalis or Culex coronator?

Updated June 15, 2022

Are you seeing Culex mosquitoes with banded legs in your collections? The Darsie and Morris (2000) key to Florida mosquitoes does not contain Culex coronator. Culex (excluding the Melanoconion) with distinct or narrow basal and apical bands on the hind tarsomeres will key out to bahamensis or tarsalis. Culex bahamensis has very narrow bands on the hindtarsomeres, a broad median white band on the proboscis, and its distribution is currently thought to be limited to Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties in the continental United States (Breeland 1982, Riles and Connelly 2020). Culex tarsalis has distinct basal and apical banding on the hind tarsomeres and a broad median white band on the proboscis.

While Cx. tarsalis has been reported from several counties in Florida, it is not common or abundant statewide. Conversely, Cx. coronator is becoming more and more common and abundant statewide. The first collections of Cx. coronator in Florida were from Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington counties in 2005 (Smith et al. 2006) As of 2022, Cx. coronator has been found in all 67 Florida counties (Connelly et al. 2016, Sames et al. 2021, Boehmler et al. 2022).

Since Cx. coronator is not in the Darsie and Morris key (2000), following the key will lead to Cx. coronator specimens being incorrectly identified as Cx. tarsalis. For the taxonomic key that includes both species, refer to the Darsie and Ward key to the mosquitoes of North America (2005). Additionally, the table below provides a list of characteristics to allow identifiers to separate Cx. coronator from Cx. tarsalis. The information presented in the table is a combination of characteristics from Darsie and Ward (2005), Darsie and Morris (2000), and Carpenter and LaCasse (1955). A close examination of the proboscis of Cx. coronator will reveal a broad area of pale or white scales on the ventral surface which does not extend around the dorsal surface to form a complete band; but there is a band of white scales around the proboscis of Cx. tarsalis (Figure 1).

If you have specimens that you believe are either Cx. coronator or Cx. tarsalis., and you would like to have a confirmation on the identification, you may send them to FMEL to Dr. Eva Buckner, 200 9th Street SE, Vero Beach, FL 32962.


Separating adult females of Culex tarsalis from Culex coronator



Culex tarsalis

Culex coronator


Proboscis dark-scaled with a
broad median white band




Proboscis dark-scaled dorsally
and a broad area of pale or
white scales ventrally




Short palps, dark with white
scales on the apical and the 3rd




Short, dark palps




Hind tarsomeres with distinct
basal and apical bands




Anterior surface of forefemur
and tibia with pale stripe of




V-shaped dark-scaled pattern
on abdominal sterna




Abdominal sterna without dark
triangles; mostly pale scaled




Boehmler MB. 2022. Culex coronator: A new species record for Monroe County, Florida. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 38: 96-98.

Breeland, SG. 1982. Bibliography and notes on Florida mosquitoes with limited distribution in the United States. Mosquito Systematics. 14(1): 53-72.

Carpenter SJ, LaCasse WJ. 1955. Mosquitoes of North America (North of Mexico). University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 360 pp +127 plates.

Connelly C, Alto B, O'Meara G. 2016. The spread of Culex coronator (Diptera: Culicidae) throughout Florida. Journal of Vector Ecology 41: 195-199.

Darsie Jr. RF, Morris CD. 2000. Keys to the adult females and fourth instar larvae of the mosquitoes of Florida (Diptera, Culicidae). Technical Bulletin of the Florida Mosquito Control Association. Volume 1 (revised). Florida Mosquito Control Association, Inc. Fort Myers, FL. 159 pp.

Darsie Jr. RF, Ward RW. 2005. Identification and geographical distribution of the mosquitoes of North America, North of Mexico. University Press of Florida. Gainesville, FL. 304 pp.

Sames WJ, Mann JG, Kelly R, Evans CL, Varnado WC, Bosworth AB, Noden BH, Ramberg FB, Riles MT, Killingsworth D, Doyle MS. 2021. Distribution of Culex coronator in the USA. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 37: 1-9.

Smith JP, Walsh JD, Cope EH, Tennant Jr. RA, Kozak III JA, Darsie Jr. RF. 2006. Culex coronator Dyar and Knab: A new Florida species record. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. 22(2): 330-332.

Eva A. Buckner, Assistant Professor & State Extension Specialist

C. Roxanne Connelly, Former Professor
George F. O’Meara, Emeritus Professor
Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory
University of Florida, IFAS
Vero Beach, FL