Biting midges of the genus Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) were monitored at a Georgia (USA) site where epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and bluetongue (BT) viruses are enzootic among white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Collections were made using a captive white-tailed deer and light traps from June 1993 through November 1994. We collected 210,482 females from the captive deer during morning and evening periods. Predominant species were C. lahillei (73%), C. stellifer (16%), C. biguttatus (6%), C. niger (3%), C. spinosus (2%), and C. paraensis (0.2%). Other species were C. venustus, C. obsoletus/sanguisuga, C. haematopotus, C. guttipennis, and C. arboricola, which together represented <0.1% of the specimens collected. No C. variipennis, a known vector of EHD and BT viruses, were collected from the deer. An estimated 953,299 females were collected in 695 light-trap nights. The most common species in light-trap collections were C. spinosus (45%), C. biguttatus (27%) and C. stellifer (24%). Culicoides variipennis was rare in the light-trap samples, representing <0.01% of the total collections. There was serological evidence from hunter-killed deer that local deer were infected with EHD and BT viruses during the study, particularly during 1994. A primary suspect vector was C. lahillei, which attacked the bait deer in large numbers during the summer and early fall of both 1993 and 1994. Based on their seasonality, relative abundance, and host-seeking activity, C. stellifer and C. spinosus also were considered as possible vectors. However, virus isolation attempts on 113,716 Culicoides, including 62,530 C. lahillei and 32,769 C. stellifer, were negative.
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Vol. 32 • No. 4