Activity of Culicoides spp. (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) inside and outside of livestock stables in late winter and spring
Culicoides Latreille, 1809 midge species are the putative vectors of Bluetongue virus (BTV) and Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in Europe. To gain a better understanding of the epidemiology of the diseases, basic knowledge about the overwintering of the vectors is needed. Therefore, we investigated culicoid activity in relation to air temperature at livestock stables during late winter and spring season. Ceratopogonids were captured weekly indoors and outdoors on three cattle farms, three horse farms and one sheep farm in the federal state of Brandenburg, Germany between January and May, 2015 by BG-Sentinel UV-light suction traps. First seasonal activity was measured inside a sheep barn and cattle stables in mid-March, suggesting the existence of a preceding vector-free period. The first species at all trapping sites were members of the Obsoletus Complex followed by Culicoides punctatus (Meigen), 1804 and Culicoides pulicaris (Linnaeus), 1758 simultaneously. In total, 160 collections were made, including 3465 Culicoides specimens with 2790 (80.6%) of them being members of the Obsoletus Complex. The remaining 675 individuals belonged to six other culicoid species. 59.8% of all Culicoides were collected indoors, and almost five times as many midges were sampled on cattle farms as on horse farms. Cattle farms harboured seven species while only two species were found on the horse and the sheep farms, respectively. Temperatures, husbandry practises and the presence/quality of potential breeding sites might be responsible for the difference in species and numbers of caught specimens between livestock holdings.