Genus Uranotaenia Lynch Arribálzaga, 1891

Type species: 

Uranotaenia pulcherrima Lynch Arribálzaga, 1891.


Subfamily Culicinae, tribe Uranotaeniini. Uranotaenia is the only genus of tribe Uranotaeniini. It includes 271 species grouped into two subgenera, Pseudoficalbia with 150 species and Uranotaenia with 121 species. Genus abbreviation – Ur.


Uranotaenia are small, delicate mosquitoes that are characterised by features of the wings. The microtrichia are extremely minute and not visible under ordinary magnification, cell R2 is always shorter than vein R2+3 and cell M2, and the anal vein is sharply curved distally and ends before the base of the mediocubital crossvein. Some species are adorned with silver scales with bluish reflections. Larvae are recognised by the following characters: seta 1-C arises from a distinct process on the anterior margin of the head, seta 14-C is always near the anterior margin at the base of the maxilla, the hypostomal suture is absent, abdominal segment VIII usually bears a sclerite (comb plate) with a single row of comb scales on its posterior margin, the siphon has a single pair of seta 1-S inserted well above the base and a pecten is present that consists of few to many spines. See Uranotaeniini.

Phylogenetic relationships: 

The phylogenetic affinities of Uranotaenia are unresolved. The largely membranous proctiger of the male genitalia is found elsewhere only in Anophelinae, Aedeomyiini and some Aedini, and the greatly elongate ventral portion of the larval head capsule is found in Anophelinae, Toxorhynchitini and some predaceous larvae of other groups (Belkin, 1962). The larval labiohypopharynx bears a strong resemblance to that of anophelines and dixids (Harbach, 1978). The genus was recovered in a sister-group relationship with Aedeomyia in the phylogenetic study of Harbach & Kitching (1998) based on an implied weighting analysis morphological data. Aedeomyia was placed basal to Uranotaenia when character weights were assigned using successive approximation character weighting. The phylogenetic relationships within the genus have not been investigated.

Bionomics and disease relations: 

The immature stages of Uranotaenia species utilise a range of habitats. The larvae of most species inhabit ground waters, including swamps, marshes, stream margins and temporary pools with vegetation, but many also utilise rock holes, crab holes, tree holes, bamboo, plant parts on the ground, leaf axils, flower bracts, pitcher plants and artificial containers. Females rarely feed on humans. The feeding preferences of most species are unknown, but available data indicate that amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals serve as hosts. Females of Ur. sapphirina of subgenus Urnaotaenia specialise in feeding on earthworms and leeches of the phylum Annelida (Reeves et al., 2018). Adults rest on moist, protected surfaces near the larval habitats and may be found in large numbers in suitable shelters. Many species are attracted to light and are occasionally found resting inside houses.

A few species bite humans but none are involved in the transmission of pathogens.


Most species of Uranotaenia occur in the Afrotropical and Oriental Regions, but several occur in Australia, one in Europe and the Middle East, two extend from the Neotropical Region into the southern USA, and one occurs in the West Indies and from Mexico to Canada. No species are known from New Zealand, New Caledonia or small oceanic islands.

Principal references: 

Barraud, 1934 (southern Asia, keys, descriptions, bionomics, distributions); Edwards, 1941 (Afrotropical Region, adults); Hopkins, 1952 (Afrotropical Region, larvae); Lane, 1953 (Neotropical Region, genus and species descriptions, keys, distributions); Galindo et al., 1954 (Panama, taxonomy, genus and species descriptions, keys, bionomics); Belkin, 1962 (South Pacific, keys, taxonomy, genus, subgenus and descriptions, bionomics, distributions); Delfinado, 1966 (Philippines, genus and species descriptions, keys, distributions, bionomics); Belkin et al., 1970 (Jamaica, keys, descriptions, bionomics, distributions); Peyton, 1977 (subgenus Pseudoficalbia, Southeast Asia, subgenus, sections and species descriptions, keys, distributions, bionomics); Tanaka et al., 1979 (Japan, genus and species descriptions, keys, distributions); Clark-Gil & Darsie, 1983 (Guatemala, keys); Darsie, 1985 (Argentina, keys); Lee et al., 1989 (Australasian Region, genus and subgenus distinctions, species keys, distributions, bionomics); Darsie & Pradhan, 1990 (Nepal, species keys, distributions, bionomics); Service, 1990 (Afrotropical Region, morphology, keys, bionomics, distributions); da Cunha Ramos, 1993 (Afrotropical Region, genus, subgenus, sections and species descriptions and keys, distributions, bionomics); da Cunha Ramos & Brunhes, 2004 (Madagascar, genus, subgenus, sections and species descriptions and keys, distributions, bionomics); Rattanarithikul et al., 2006 (Thailand, keys, bionomics); Rivera-García et al., 2019 (Mexico, keys).

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith