The Ceratopogonidae (biting midges) include serious blood-sucking pests, feeding both on humans and other mammals. Some of them spread the livestock diseases blue tongue and African horse sickness. There are over 4,000 species of biting midges in the Ceratopogonidae family, and over 1,000 in just one genus, Culicoides. The distribution of midges in the genus Culicoides is world-wide. Ceratopogonidae is a family of flies commonly known as no-see-ums, or biting midges, generally 1–3 mm in length and are distributed worldwide, apart from the Antarctic and the Arctic.

Ceratopogonidae are holometabolous, meaning their development includes four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and imago or adult, taking two to six weeks. Both adult males and females feed on nectar. Most females also feed on the blood of vertebrates, including humans, to get protein for egg-laying. Their bites are painful and can cause intensely itchy lesions. Their mouthparts are well-developed for cutting the skin of its host. Some species prey on other insects.


Vector: Culicoides  (Biting Midge)


Tthe biting midges are primarily a nuisance and the major medical issue associated with Culicoides is allergic reactions to the bites. However, like other blood feeding Diptera, Culicoides species are vectors of pathogens that can cause disease in humans and animals. In Central and South America, western and central Africa, and some Caribbean islands, biting midges are the vectors of filarial worms in the genus Mansonella. These parasites cause infection in humans that produces dermatitis and skin lesions because the adult worms are located in the skin.

Vector: Culicoides Biting Midge

Disease: Blue Tongue Virus

Bluetongue disease is a noncontagious, insect-borne, viral disease of ruminants, mainly sheep and less frequently cattle, goats, buffalo and deer. In sheep, BTV causes an acute disease with high morbidity and mortality. BTV also infects goats, cattle and other domestic animals as well as wild ruminants (for example, blesbuck, white-tailed deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope).

Major signs are high fever, excessive salivation, swelling of the face and tongue and cyanosis of the tongue. Swelling of the lips and tongue gives the tongue its typical blue appearance, though this sign is confined to a minority of the animals. Nasal signs may be prominent, with nasal discharge and stertorous respiration. Some animals also develop foot lesions, beginning with coronitis, with consequent lameness. In sheep, this can lead to knee-walking. In cattle, constant changing of position of the feet gives bluetongue the nickname The Dancing Disease. Torsion of the neck (opisthotonos or torticollis) is observed in severely affected animals.

Bluetongue has been observed in Australia, the US, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. In September 2007, the UK reported its first ever suspected case of the disease, in a Highland cow on a rare-breeds farm near Ipswich, Suffolk. Since then, the virus has spread from cattle to sheep in Britain.

Vector: Culicoides Biting Midge

Disease: Epizootic haemorrhagic disease (EHDV)

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus is often mistakenly referred to as “bluetongue virus” (BTV), another Orbivirus that like EHDV causes the host to develop a characteristic blue tongue due to systemic hemorrhaging and lack of oxygen in the blood. Despite showing clinical similarities, these two viruses are genetically distinct.

Vector: Culicoides Biting Midge

Disease: Schmallenberg virus

Schmallenberg virus is the informal name given to a recently isolated orthobunyavirus, which has not been given a formal name as of January 2013, initially reported in October 2011[1] to cause congenital malformations and stillbirths in cattle, sheep, goats, and possibly alpaca. The disease was confirmed as present in the UK on 22 January 2012, on being formally identified in four sheep farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex. By 27 February 2012, the disease was reported in other counties in the south of England including the Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, West Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Cornwall. It is likely that it was carried to Eastern England by midges from mainland Europe, a possibility previously identified as a risk by Defra.

Vector: Culicoides Biting Midge

Disease: African Horse Sickness

African horse sickness (AHS) is a highly infectious and deadly disease caused by African horse sickness virus. It commonly affects horses, mules, and donkeys.

AHS virus was first recorded south of the Sahara Desert in the mid-1600s, with the introduction of horses to southern Africa. The virus is considered endemic to the equatorial, eastern, and southern regions of Africa. Several outbreaks have occurred in the Equidae throughout Africa and elsewhere.[2] AHS is known to be endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, and has spread to Morocco, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. More recently, outbreaks have been reported in the Iberian Peninsula. AHS has never been reported in the Americas, eastern Asia, or Australasia.