Ecology of mosquitoes and St. Louis encephalitis virus in the Los Angeles Basin of California, 1987-1990.

W. K. Reisen, M. M. Milby, S. B. Presser, J. L. Hardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus has become established in the Los Angeles Basin of California, where it most likely is maintained by horizontal transmission among Culex tarsalis Coquillet and passerine birds in park-riparian habitat. Viral transmission also was detected at low levels in residential habitat by the infrequent seroconversion of sentinel chickens. SLE virus activity was documented in all months except March and April. Cx. tarsalis was incriminated as the primary vector, based on elevated field infection rates (0.17 infected females per 1,000 tested), population abundance concomitant in time and space with increased SLE virus activity, vector competence, and vectorial capacity. Culex stigmatosoma Dyar also may be important in the horizontal maintenance of SLE virus because this species was an efficient laboratory vector, fed frequently on passeriform birds, and had field infection rates (0.15 females per 1,000) comparable with Cx. tarsalis. However, difficulty in trapping adult females precluded the assessment of Cx. stigmatosoma because abundance may have been underestimated and comparatively few females were tested for virus. Although Cx. quinquefasciatus Say was the most abundant species in residential habitats (greater than 85% of total catch at CO2 traps) where it occasionally fed on humans (0.6% of total tested), this species was considered to be of secondary importance because field infection rates were low (0.03 females per 1,000) and few females became infected and transmitted SLE virus in laboratory vector competence experiments. Although Culex erythrothorax Dyar fed on humans in marsh habitat (5% of total tested), this species infrequently fed on birds (12%) and was refractory to SLE virus infection in vector competence experiments; therefore, it was not considered a vector of SLE virus. Future SLE virus surveillance and mosquito control programs should be directed toward Cx. tarsalis populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-598
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecology of mosquitoes and St. Louis encephalitis virus in the Los Angeles Basin of California, 1987-1990.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this