I've been the surveillance specialist in Okaloosa County Mosquito Control for almost 3 years now, and I LOVE ID! Our trapping program is honestly somewhat limited considering the size of our county with only 12 traps, but that hasn't stopped me from discovering some really cool stuff!
One such discovery was the "spotted salinarius". Culex salinarius is fairly common in the south end of our county and I catch them frequently, but 2 years ago, I found a very odd one. By all other identification factors, the mosquito was a Cx. salinarius, but it had golden spots between the bands on the abdominal segments.
I sent pictures to Mike Riles at PCB Mosquito Control, and Dr. Nathan Burkett-Cadena at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, and it caused quite a commotion! In the end, the mosquito was sent to Vero Beach, where DNA testing was preformed. Unfortunately, my mosquito was genetically insignificant, but that wasn't the end of the story! I continued to find spotted salinarius and my neighbors were finding them too. But then I started getting what I called "Full gold salinarius" who's abdomens were completely coated in golden scales.
I found this quite exciting as it seemed the mutation was further advancing in my area. But oddly, the mutated salinarius made up for only about 5% of what I caught. This meticulous branching caused me to believe even further that I was watching a genetic off-shoot progress, a possible birth of a sub-species. So I continued to watch. Then, just a few weeks ago, I caught a single salinarius with an even further, more profound advancement to the mutation. Patches of WHITE scales had formed on the corners of the abdominal segments. A completely new color of scales had appeared on the abdomen!
And with these pictures, you are now caught up to where I am regarding the morphological mutations of Cx. salinarius in Okaloosa County! I would like to have this mosquito's DNA tested, but as you can see, it's lacking most of it's legs already and would have to be destroyed for testing to occur. For the moment, I am watching the traps and hoping to get more like this one.
Thanks for taking the time to read!
Wow this is really cool stuff! It’s amazing to see the variations. Thank you for sharing!