Psorophora ferox (von Humboldt, 1819)




Etymology: not stated (wild (L))

One of 23 species in the subgenus Janthinosoma, Psorophora ferox is a common flood-water mosquito, with a long dark proboscis and bright white hind tarsi. It occurs over most of central and south America down to Argentina, but it is found only in the eastern half of the United States and in southeastern Canada. In Panama and Colombia, Ps. ferox is commonly infested with eggs of the human bot fly (Dermatobia hominis).

Type locality: Borodon, Ecuador

Type depository: Type non-existent (NE)

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

ADULT (illustrated): Head: Occiput erect scales broad, distinctly forked apically. Thorax: Scutum without a distinct pattern of pale and dark scales; proepisternum with pale scales; subspiracular patch of white scales. Wings: Wing with narrow dark scales.  Legs: Fe-III pale basally, without preapical white band; Fe-III without distinct erect dark scales apically; Ta-III4,5 and often apex of Ta-III3 white scaled; U-I–III with distinct tooth basally. Abdomen: I-Te with patch of purple scales medially; II–VI-Te dark, purple, with apicolateral patches of white scales. 

LARVA (not illustrated): Head: Head rounded anteriorly; antenna long, distinctly longer than head length; setae 5,6-C usually double and longer than 7-C; seta 7-C ≥5 branched.  Abdominal segments: Seta 6-IV–VI longer than length of respective segments. Terminal segments: Seta 1-VIII small and multi-branched; seta 2-VIII much longer than 1-VIII; 6–8 comb scales, often on posterior border of weakly sclerotized comb plate; siphon expanded medially; seta 1-S very small, ≥3 branched; seta 2-S small, weak and straight; pecten with ≤8 small spines.



Carpenter & LaCasse 1955

Ross & Horsfall 1965

Dodge 1966

Darsie & Ward 2005

Harrison et al. 2008

Becker et al. 2010

Harrison et al. 2016



adult mosquito key icon

WRBU – Psorophora – Neotropical Region – Adult

Exemplar DNA sequences

Ps. ferox  COI: KM593037–38, KM593062, KY859923–32, MF172347–49, MG242536




The eggs of Ps. ferox are laid in batches of c. 80, and these are highly tolerant to desiccation. The species overwinters as eggs that are laid in late summer, in grassy sites prone to flooding. Immatures are commonly found in temporary rain-filled pools and in overflow stream pools, especially those heavily shaded by bushes. Psorophora ferox larvae have very distinctive antennae that are as long, or longer, than the head capsule.


Psorophora ferox is closely associated with wet woodland habitats and mating swarms occur in cloudy/overcast conditions in open woodlands. Females feed mainly on mammals, but also on birds. It is a highly aggressive and painful biter, feeding opportunistically throughout the day and night, and even attacking man in the open on cloudy days.



Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, United States (continental), Uruguay, Venezuela.

Distribution map for <em>Psorophora ferox</em>  (von Humboldt, 1819)



None; View other WRBU Vector Hazard Reports

Available GIS Models:

Ps_ferox_Dornak_1 South & Central America


IMPORTANT REFERENCES (full citations below)

von Humboldt 1819: 340 (A; Culex)

Goeldi 1905 (E*; as musica)

Mitchell 1907 (E*; as posticatus)

Theobald 1907 (E*; as sayi)

Howard et al. 1913 (1912) (E*; as sayi)

Howard et al. 1917 (E; as sayi)

Pawan 1922 (E*; as posticata)

Gerry 1932 (F*)

Senevet 1946: 327 (L*)

Yamaguti & LaCasse 1951b: 53 (M*, F*, L*)

Horsfall et al. 1952: 618 (E*)

Lane 1953: 745 (M*, F, P*, L*)

Carpenter & LaCasse 1955: 120 (M*, F*, L*; keys)

Guedes et al. 1965: 19 (M*, F*)

Forattini 1965 (E*)

Ross & Horsfall 1965 (M*, F*, L*, E*; keys)

Dodge 1966: 382 (1st instar L*; key)

Belkin 1968b: 26 (taxonomy)

Belkin et al. 1970: 126 (M*, F, P*, L*)

Horsfall et al. 1970: 1714 (E*)

Wallis & Whitman 1971 (bionomics)

Mattingly 1971a: Pl. 17 (P segment IV*)

Magnarelli 1980 (bionomics)

Linley & Chadee 1990 (E*)

Rossi & Martínez 2003: 472 (distribution; Uruguay)

Darsie & Ward 2005 (F*, L*; keys, distribution)

Liria & Navarro 2007 (morphology; cibarial armature*)

Harrison et al. 2008 (taxonomy, key, US)

Becker et al. 2010: 395 (F*, L*; key, taxonomy, distribution, bionomics)

Berti et al. 2015 (distribution; Venezuela)

Harrison et al. 2016 (F*, L*; keys, distribution)



syn. posticatus Wiedemann

1821: 43 (A; Culex). Type locality: Mexico (NMW). References: Belkin 1968b: 28 (type information).

syn. musicus Say

1829: 149 (A; Culex). Type locality: Indiana, United States (NE). References: Goeldi 1905: 117 (F*, E*).

syn. vanhalli Dyar & Knab

1906a: 134 (A; Janthinosoma). Type locality: Paramaribo, Surinam (USNM). References: Stone & Knight 1955: 286 (type information).

syn. sayi Dyar & Knab

1906d: 181 (new name for musicus Say, not Leach; Janthinosoma). References: Howard et al. 1917: 554 (M*, F, P*, L*, E*; bionomics).

syn. echinata Grabham

1906b: 311 (M, F, L*; Janthinosoma). Type locality: Molynes Road, near Kingston [Surrey], Jamaica (USNM). References: Stone & Knight 1955: 283 (type information); Belkin et al. 1970: 126 (lectotype design).

syn. terminalis Coquillett

1906d: 8, 17 (A; Janthinosoma). Type locality: St Lucia Island [Lesser Antilles] (NHMUK). References: Belkin 1968b: 29 (lectotype desig.).

syn. coquillettii Theobald

1907: 153 (A; Janthinosoma). Type locality: None designated (NE).

syn. sayi Theobald

1907: 155 (new name for musicus Say, not Leach; Janthinosoma). References: Stone et al. 1959: 127 (synonymy).

syn. jamaicensis Theobald

1907: 157 (F; Janthinosoma sayi var.). Type locality: Runaway Bay & Kingston, [Surrey], Jamaica (NHMUK). References: Belkin 1968b: 27 (lectotype designation).

 syn. pazosi Pazos

1908: 432 (F*, Fig. only; Aedes). Type locality: Vuelta Abajo (Las Villas), Cuba (NE).

syn. centrale Brèthes

1910: 469 (A; Janthinosoma). Type locality: Islas del Parana, Buenos Aires, Argentina (BA). References: Belkin et al. 1968: 13 (lectotype designation according to Casal).



Becker, N., Petrić, D., Zgomba, M., Boase, C., Madon, M., Dahl, C., & Kaiser, A. (2010). Mosquitoes and their control (Second ed.). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

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.

Belkin, J.N., Schick, R.X., & Heinemann, S.J. (1968). Mosquito studies (Diptera, Culicidae). XI. Mosquitoes originally described from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, 4(1), 9–29.

Berti, J., Guzmán, H., Estrada, Y., & Ramírez, R. (2015). New records of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) from Bolívar State in South Eastern Venezuela, with 27 new species for the state and 5 of them new in the country. Frontiers in Public Health, 2, 10.

Brèthes, J. (1910). Dípteros nuevos ó poco conocidos de Sud-América. Anales del Museo Nacional de Buenos Aires, 20, 469–472.

Carpenter, S.J., & LaCasse, W.J. (1955). Mosquitoes of North America (North of Mexico). Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Coquillett, D.W. (1906d). A classification of the mosquitoes of North and Middle America (Vol. 11). Washington, DC: Kessinger Publishing, LLC.

Darsie, R.F., Jr., & Ward, R.A. (2005). Identification and geographical distribution of the mosquitoes of North America, north of Mexico. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Dodge, H. R. (1966). Studies on mosquito larvae II. The first-stage larvae of North American Culicidae and of world Anophelinae. Canadian Entomologist, 98, 337–393.

Dyar, H.G., & Knab, F. (1906a). Diagnoses of new species of mosquitoes. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 19, 133–142.

Dyar, H.G., & Knab, F. (1906d). The larvae of Culicidae classified as independent organisms. Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 14, 169–230.

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

Gerry, B.I. (1932). Morphological studies of the female genitalia of Cuban mosquitoes. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 25, 31–75.

Goeldi, E.A. (1905). Os mosquitos no Para. Memórias do Museu Goeldi de Historia Natural e Ethnographia, 4.

Grabham, M. (1906b). Four new Culicidae from Jamaica, West Indies. Canadian Entomologist, 38, 311–320.

Guedes, A.S., Souza, M.A., Maciel, C.S., & Xavier, S.H. (1965). Catalogo illustrado dos mosquitoes da coleçao do Instituto Nacional de Endemias Rurais I. Genero Psorophora Robineau-Desvoidy, 1827. Revista Brasileira de Malariologia e Doenças Tropicais (Rio de Janeiro), 17, 3–24.

Harrison, B.A., Byrd, B.D., Sither, C.B., & Whitt, P.B. (2016). The mosquitoes of the Mid-Atlantic Region: an identification guide (Vol. 1). Madison Heights, MI: Publishing XPress.

Harrison, B.A., Varnado, W., Whitt, P.B., & Goddard, J. (2008). New diagnostic characters for females of Psorophora (Janthinosoma) species in the United States, with notes on Psorophora mexicana (Bellardi) (Diptera: Culicidae). Journal of Vector Ecology, 33(2), 232–237.

Horsfall, W.R., Miles, R.C., & Sokatch, J.T. (1952). Eggs of floodwater mosquitoes. I. Species of Psorophora (Diptera: Culicidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 45(4), 618–624.

Horsfall, W.R., Voorhees, F.R., & Cupp, E.W. (1970). Eggs of floodwater mosquitoes. XIII. Chorionic sculpturing. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 63, 1709–1716.

Howard, L.O., Dyar, H.G., & Knab, F. (1913). The mosquitoes of North and Central America and the West Indies. (Vol. II) (1912). Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Howard, L.O., Dyar, H.G., & Knab, F. (1917). The mosquitoes of North and Central America and the West Indies. Systematic description. Part II. Carnegie Institute of Washington.

Lane, J. (1953). Neotropical Culicidae (Vols. I, II). São Paulo: University of São Paulo.

Linley, J.R., & Chadee, D.D. (1990). Fine structure of the eggs of Psorophora columbiae, Ps. cingulata and Ps. ferox (Diptera: Culicidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 92(3), 497–511.

Liria, J., & Navarro, J.-C. (2007). Morfología del cibario en subgéneros de Psorophora Robineau Desvoidy (Diptera: Culicidae). Neotropical Entomology, 36(6), 902–909.

Magnarelli, L.A. (1980). Bionomics of Psorophora ferox (Diptera: Culicidae): seasonal occurrence and acquisition of sugars. Journal of Medical Entomology, 17(4), 328–332.

Mattingly, P.F. (1971a). Contributions to the mosquito fauna of Southeast Asia. XII. Illustrated keys to the genera of mosquitoes (Diptera, Culicidae). Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, 7(4), 1–84.

Mitchell, E.G. (1907). The classification of the Culicidae. Canadian Entomologist, 198–201.

Pawan, J.L. (1922). The oviposition of Joblotia digitatus Rondani (Diptera, Culicidae). Insecutor Inscitiae Menstruus Washington DC, 63–65.

Pazos, J.H. (1908). Descripción de nuevas espécies de mosquitos de Cuba. Academia de Ciencias de la Habana, 45, 417–432.

Ross, H.H., & Horsfall, W.R. (1965). A synopsis of the mosquitoes of Illinois (Diptera, Culicidae). Illinois Natural History Survey Biological Notes, 52, 1–50.

Rossi, G.C., & Martínez, M. (2003). Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) from Uruguay. Entomon Vect, 10(4), 469–478.

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Stone, A., Knight, K.L., & Starcke, H. (1959). A synoptic catalog of the mosquitoes of the World (Diptera, Culicidae) (Vol. 6). Washington, D.C.: Entomological Society of America, The Thomas Say Foundation.

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Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (Year). Psorophora ferox species page. Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit Website,, accessed on [date (e.g. 03 February 2020) when you last viewed the site].