Culex salinarius is considered one of the most likely bridge vectors involved in the human transmission cycle of West Nile virus (WNV) and eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus (EEEV) in the northeastern USA. The larval habitats of this species in the coastal region of New York State are currently poorly known. Between 2005 and 2007, a larval survey was carried out to identify and characterize possible larval habitats in Suffolk County, encompassing natural and man-made freshwater wetlands, artificial containers, and salt marshes. Only relatively undisturbed salt marsh yielded Cx. salinarius larvae in considerable numbers from several sites over a period of 2 years. The immature stages of this species were found associated with Spartina patens and S. alterniflora of the upper marsh at salinities ranging from 4.3 to 18.8 parts per thousand. Both heavily impacted and relatively undisturbed salt marshes produced several hundreds of adult Cx. salinarius per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) light trap per night, an order of magnitude higher than CDC light traps deployed at upland sites. The ability of Cx. salinarius to use both heavily impacted and relatively undisturbed salt marshes for reproduction has significant repercussions for marsh restoration and vector control practices.
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Vol. 24 • No. 3