We studied the spatial localization of mosquitoes in a sylvatic focus of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus in western Venezuela to identify mosquito species potentially involved in the hypothesized transport of viruses out of enzootic foci. The following criteria were used to identify species with potential for virus export: (1) common in the forest and surrounding area, (2) feeding on a wide range of vertebrates; (3) long dispersal capabilities, and (4) established vectorial competence for enzootic or epizootic VEE viruses. CDC traps baited with light/CO2 were operated for four and 12-h intervals to collect mosquitoes at four stations along two forest/open area transects from September to November 1997. We collected 60,444 mosquitoes belonging to 11 genera and 34 species. The most common species were Aedes serratus (Theobald), Ae. scapularis (Rondani), Ae. fulvus (Wiedmann), Culex nigripalpus Theobald, Cx. (Culex) “sp”, Cx. mollis Dyar & Knab, Cx. spissipes (Theobald), Cx. pedroi Sirivanakarn and Belkin, Psorophora ferox (Humboldt), Ps. albipes (Theobald), and Ps. cingulata (F.). Very few mosquitoes were captured during the day in the open area outside the forest, suggesting that any virus export from the forest may occur at night. The following mosquitoes seemed to be mostly restricted to the forest habitat: Ae. serratus, Ps. ferox, Ps. albipes, sabethines, Cx. spissipes, Cx. pedroi, Cx. dunni Dyar, and Ae. fulvus. The main species implicated in potential virus export were Cx. nigripalpus, Ae. scapularis, and Mansonia titillans (Walker).
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Vol. 38 • No. 6