Toxorhynchites Theobald, 1901



Generic abbreviation: Tx.

Type species: Toxorhynchites brevipalpis Theobald (ICZN 1959b (Opinion 548; validates name Toxorhynchites)).

Etymology: not stated [toxo- curved (Gr), snout.; ref. to downward curved proboscis].

Forest-associated species of the genus Toxorhynchites are large (>18mm) and  often highly ornate, with colorful, iridescent scales and flamboyant scale-tufts on the abdominal tail. Unique within the subfamily Culicinae, the scutellum of Toxorhynchites appears evenly rounded—a character most commonly associated with Anopheline mosquitoes (except Chagasia).

There are 90 recognized species in the genus Toxorhynchites, which are subdivided into four subgenera: Afrorhynchus (19 species, Afrotropics), Ankylorhynchus (four species, Neotropics), Lynchiella (15 species)—all in the  Neotropics, with Tx. rutilus extending into the Nearctic), and Toxorhynchites (51 species, Old World).


DIAGNOSTIC CHARACTERS  (Click photos to view; mouse over and click large photo to zoom in.)

ADULT (illustrated): Very large mosquito, often covered with intensely colored iridescent scales. Head: Proboscis long, tapered and bent distinctively downward, originates from a deep cavity on the head capsule. Thorax: Posterolateral abdominal scale tufts present. Wing: Alula and upper calypter bare; distinct sclerotization in cell M4 in front of vein Cu; wing margin distinctly emarginate near the terminus of vein CuA; scutellum evenly rounded, not lobed; no setae on acrostichal, dorsocentral and prescutellar areas.

LARVA (not illustrated): Head: Clypeus short; mouthparts modified for predation; lateral palatal brush of ≤10 flattened filaments.



Barraud 1934 (as Megarhinus; central Asia)

Edwards 1941 (as Megarhinus; Afrotropics)

van Someren 1946b: 177 (Ethiopian Region)

Hopkins 1952 (Afrotropics)

Vargas 1953b: 27 (North & Central America)

Lane 1953 (Neotropical Region)

da Costa Lima et al. 1962: 225 (Ankylorhynchus & Lynchiella)

Tanaka et al. 1979 (Japan)

Clark-Gil & Darsie 1983 (Guatemala)

Darsie 1985 (Argentina)

Rattanarithikul & Harrison et al. 2005 (Thailand)

Tyagi et al. 2015 (SE Asia)



adult mosquito key icon

WRBU – Genera – Global – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Global – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – Afrotropical – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Afrotropical – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – Australasia – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Australasia – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – IndoMalaya – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – IndoMalaya – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – Oriental – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Oriental – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – Eastern Palearctic – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Eastern Palearctic – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – Western Palearctic – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Western Palearctic – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – Nearctic – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Nearctic – Larva

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WRBU – Genera – Neotropical – Adult

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WRBU – Genera – Neotropical – Larva

Exemplar DNA sequences

Tx. (Lynchiella) guadaloupensis  COI: MF172385–88),

Tx. (Lyn.) haemorrhoidalis haemorrhoidalis COI: MF172389–93

Tx. (Lyn.) haemorrhoidalis superbus COI: MF172394–403

Tx. (Lyn.) moctezuma COI: MF172404

Tx. (Lyn.) theobaldi COI: KY782648–55

Tx. (Toxorhynchites) splendens COI: KY411577–89

Tx. (Tox.) towadensis  COI: LC054522–26

All Toxorhynchites DNA sequences




The carnivorous larvae of Toxorhynchites are found in plant containers in forest environs, including pitcher plants, tree holes, and bamboo stumps. Larvae are stout, with heavily chitinized mouthparts for grasping and consuming their aquatic prey. Their highly predatory behavior and insatiable appetite has been exploited for biocontrol in high-density larval sites of malaria vector mosquitoes, such as rice fields, and in the container breeder habitats of Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus.


Toxorhynchites females are autogenous—that is they do not require a blood meal to produce their eggs, due to high protein reserves accrued as larvae. Thus both males and females are instead sustained on carbohydrate-rich honeydew, nectar, fruits and decaying organic refuse. Toxorhynchites adults are active during the day.

Associated Pathogens

*Associated pathogens: This list reports bacteria, viruses, and parasites recovered from, or experimentally passed through this species, and does not imply field vector status.


IMPORTANT REFERENCES (full citations below)

Theobald 1901b:234 (July 15) (as genus, subgenus)

Theobald 1901a:244 (Nov. 23) (as genus, subgenus)

Barraud 1934 (as Megarhinus; central Asia)

Edwards 1941 (F, P; keys; as Megarhinus; Afrotropics)

van Someren 1946b: 177 (key; Ethiopian Region)

Stone 1948 (tax.; Megarhinus replaced by Toxorhynchites)

Hopkins 1952 (L; key; Afrotropics)

Vargas 1953b: 27 (key; North & Central America)

Lane 1953 (tax. keys; Neotropical Region)

Stone & Knight 1957d (ICZN, Toxorhynchites)

Thurman 1959b (Thailand)

da Costa Lima et al. 1962: 225 (revision; key; Ankylorhynchus & Lynchiella)

Belkin 1962 (review; South Pacific)

Forattini 1965 (Neotropical Region)

Cova-García et al. 1966 (Venezuela)

Belkin 1968b: 32 (type information)

Mattingly 1969b: 13 (E*)

Belkin et al. 1970 (New World)

Berlin & Pandian 1973a: 274 (Catalog; India)

Harbach 1977 (phylogeny)

Harbach 1978 (phylogeny)

Tanaka et al. 1979 (F, L; keys, taxonomy, bionomics; Japan)

Steffan et al. 1980 (annotated bibliography)

Steffan 1981 (type information; NMNH)

Steffan & Evenhuis 1981 (bionomics)

Clark-Gil & Darsie 1983 (keys; Guatemala)

Darsie 1985 (keys; Argentina)

Mitchell & Darsie 1985 (review, bibliography, distribution; Argentina)

Steffan & Evenhuis 1985 (phylogeny; subgenus Toxorhynchites)

Evenhuis & Steffan 1986 (Acaudatus Group; Oriental Region)

Lee et al. 1988c (subg. Toxorhynchites; Australasia)

Service 1990 (Afrotropicals)

Ribeiro 1991 (tax.; Brevipalpis Group; Afrotropics)

Manning et al. 1982 (catalog supplement)

Ribeiro 1992b (subenus Afrorhynchus)

Harbach & Kitching 1998 (phylogeny)

Collins & Blackwell 2000 (bionomics)

Mitchell et al. 2002 (molecular phylogeny; as tribe in subfamily Culicinae)

Ribeiro, 2004 (taxonomy; subgenus Afrorhynchus; Madagascar)

Ribeiro 2005b (taxonomy, classification)

Rattanarithikul & Harrison et al. 2005 (F, L; taxonomy, keys, bionomics; Thailand)

Reidenbach et al. 2009 (molecular phylogeny; as member of subfamily Culicinae)

Tyagi et al. 2015 (taxonomy, keys, bionomics; SE Asia)



Afrorhynchus Ribeiro [Afr.]

Ankylorhynchus Lutz [Ank.]

Lynchiella Lahille [Lyn.]

Toxorhynchites Theobald [Tox.]




syn. Worcesteria Banks 1906a: 779 (as genus). Type species: Worcesteria grata Banks.

syn. Teromyia Leicester 1908: 49 (as genus). Type species: Teromyia acaudata Leicester (Brunetti 1914: 72).


syn. Megarhinus Robineau-Desvoidy 1827: 412 (not Rafinesque 1820). Type species: Culex haemorrhoidalis Fabricius.

syn. Megarhina Macquart 1838b: 32 (as genus). Harbach 2018c: 150 ”unjustified emendation of Megarhinus Robineau-Desvoidy 1827; preoccupied by Megarhina Le Peletier & Audinet-Serville 1828; senior [but invalid] synonym of Lynchiella Lahille 1904; synonymy by Evenhuis et al. 2016.”

syn. Megarrhina Skuse 1889: 1720 (variant spelling of Megarhinus Robineau-Desvoidy).

syn. Megarrhinus Stackelberg 1926: 50 (incorrect spelling of Megarhinus Robineau-Desvoidy).



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Belkin, J.N. (1962). The mosquitoes of the South Pacific (Diptera, Culicidae) (Vols. 1 &2). Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

Belkin, J.N. (1968b). Mosquito studies (Diptera, Culicidae). IX. The type specimens of New World mosquitoes in European museums. Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, 3(4), 1–69.

Belkin, J.N., Heinemann, S.J., & Page, W.A. (1970). The Culicidae of Jamaica (Mosquito studies. XXI) Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, 6(1), 458.

Berlin, O.G.W., & Pandian, R.S. (1973a). Annotated list of nominal species of culicines of India I. Introduction. Genus Toxorhynchites. Mosquito Systematics, 5(4), 274–276.

Clark-Gil, S., & Darsie, Jnr., R.F. (1983). The mosquitoes of Guatemala: their identification, distribution and bionomics, with keys to adult females and larvae, in English and Spanish. Mosquito Systematics, 15(3), 151–284.

Collins, L.E., & Blackwell, A. (2000). The biology of Toxorhynchites mosquitoes and their potential for as biocontrol agents. Biocontrol News and Information, 21(4), 105N-116N.

Cova García, P., Sutil Oramas, E., & Rausseo, J.A. (1966). Mosquitos (Culicinos) de Venezuela. Vol. I (adults, Vol. II (larvae). Ministerio de Sanidad y Asistencia Social, Caracas, 410pp.

Cova García, P., Sutil, E., & Rausseo, J.A. (1966). Mosquitos (Culicinos) de Venezuela (Vol. II). Caracas: Ministerio de Sanidad y Asistencia Social, Caracas.

da Costa Lima, A., Guitton, N., & Ferreira, O. (1962). Comentários relativos ás espécies da tribo Toxorhynchitini (Megarhinini) com a descrição de uma espécie nova de Lynchiella (Diptera, Culicidae). Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 60(2), 225–252.

Darsie, R.F., Jr.  (1985). Mosquitoes of Argentina. Part I. Keys for identification of adult females and fourth stage larvae in English and Spanish (Diptera, Culicidae). Mosquito Systematics, 17(3), 153-23–253.

Edwards, F.W. (1941). Mosquitoes of the Ethiopian Region. III. Culicine adults and pupae. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology.

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Evenhuis, N.L., Pape, T., & Pont, A.C. (2016). Nomenclatural studies toward a world list of Diptera genus-group names. Part V: Pierre-Justin-Marie Macquart. Zootaxa, 4172(1), 1–211.

Forattini, O.P. (1965). Entomología Médica. 3.0 Volume. Culicini: Haemagogus, Mansonia, Culiseta, Sabethini, Toxorhynchitini. Arboviruses. Filariose bancroftiana. São Paulo: Universidade de São Paulo.

Harbach, R.E. (1977). Comparative and functional morphology of the mandibles of some fourth stage mosquito larvae (Diptera: Culicidae). Zoomorphologie, 87, 217–236.

Harbach, R.E. (1978). Comparative structure of the labiohypopharynx of fourth stage mosquito larvae (Diptera: Culicidae), with comments on larval morphology, evolution and feeding habits. Mosquito Systematics, 10(3), 301–333.

Harbach, R.E. (2018c). Culicipedia: species-group, genus-group and family-group names in Culicidae (Diptera). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: CABI.

Harbach, R.E. & Kitching, I.J. (1998). Phylogeny and classification of the Culicidae (Diptera). Systematic Entomology, 23(4), 327–370.

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Le Peletier, A.I. & Audinet-Serville, J.G. (1828). pp 345–832, [1]. In: Latreille, P. A. (ed.), Histoire naturelle. Entomologie, ou histoire naturelle des crustacés, de arachnids et des insects.

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Mitchell, A., Sperling, F.A.H., & Hickey, D.A. (2002). Higher-level phylogeny of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae): mtDNA data support a derived placement for Toxorhynchites. Insect Systematics and Evolution, 33(2), 163–174.

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Reidenbach, K.R., Cook, S., Bertone, M.A., Harbach, R.E., Wiegmann, B.M., & Besansky, N.J. (2009). Phylogenetic analysis and temporal diversification of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) based on nuclear genes and morphology. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 9(1), Article 298.

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