Oviposition activity and West Nile virus (family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus, WNV) infection rates were assessed for members of the Culex pipiens complex from July through December 2002 by using gravid traps placed at four ecologically different sites in the southern portion of the hybrid zone in Shelby County, TN. Molecular assays identified three members of the Cx. pipiens complex: Cx. pipiens pipiens L., Cx. p. quinquefasciatus Say, and Cx. p. pipiens–Cx. p. quinquefasciatus hybrids (hybrids). The Cx. pipiens complex accounted for 90% of mosquitoes collected in gravid traps. All 285 WNV-positive mosquitoes were Culex mosquitoes, and 277 (97%) were Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes. Infection rates among members of the Cx. pipiens complex were not significantly different. Infection rates were significantly higher at two urban sites than at a rural site, and WNV was not detected at a forested site. At urban sites, abundances of members of the Cx. pipiens complex corresponded to a simple latitude model of the hybrid zone. Cx. p. quinquefasciatus was most abundant (46.4%), followed by hybrids (34.1%) and Cx. p. pipiens (19.5%). The relative abundances at a rural site were reversed with Cx. p. pipiens (48.4%) being most abundant. This demonstrates that spatial habitat variation may profoundly influence the distribution of members of the Cx. pipiens complex within the hybrid zone. Members of the Cx. pipiens complex did not display different oviposition patterns. However, oviposition patterns assessed hourly at urban and rural sites were significantly different. At urban sites, oviposition activity of Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes was bimodal with an evening peak associated with sunset and a morning peak associated with sunrise. At the rural site, the evening peak was pronounced and the morning peak weak and similar to nighttime activity.
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Vol. 43 • No. 6