Pyrethroid tolerance in Culex pipiens pipiens var molestus from Marin County, California

Rory D. McAbee, Kyung Don Kang, Matthew A. Stanich, Julie A. Christiansen, Craig E. Wheelock, Allan D. Inman, Bruce D. Hammock, Anthony J. Cornel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


In May 2001 a sample of Culex pipiens pipiens variety molestus Forskål from Marin County, California, collected as larvae and reared to adults, was found to show reduced resmethrin and permethrin knock-down responses in bottle bioassays relative to a standard susceptible Cx pipiens quinquefasciatus Say colony (CQ1). Larval susceptibility tests, using CQ1 as standard susceptible, indicated that the Marin mosquitoes had LC50 resistance ratios of 18.3 for permethrin, 12 for deltamethrin and 3.3 for pyrethrum. A colony of Marin was established and rapidly developed higher levels of resistance in a few generations after exposure to permethrin as larvae. These selected larvae were shown to cross-resist to lambda-cyhalothrin as well as to DDT. However, adult knock-down time in the presence of permethrin, resmethrin and pyrethrum was not increased after increase in tolerance to pyrethroids as larvae. Partial and almost complete reversion to susceptibility as larvae was achieved with S, S, S-tributylphosphorotrithioate and piperonyl butoxide (PBO), respectively, suggesting the presence of carboxylesterase and P450 monooxygenase mediated resistance. Insensitive target site resistance (kdr) was also detected in some Marin mosquitoes by use of an existing PCR-based diagnostic assay designed for Cx p pipiens L mosquitoes. Carboxylesterase mediated resistance was supported by use of newly synthesized novel pyrethroid-selective substrates in activity assays. Bottle bioassays gave underestimates of the levels of tolerance to pyrethroids of Marin mosquitoes when compared with mortality rates in field trials using registered pyrethroid adulticides with and without PBO. This study represents the first report of resistance to pyrethroids in a feral population of a mosquito species in the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-368
Number of pages10
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Culex pipiens complex
  • Pyrethroid resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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