Aedesgabriel is one of the rare species endemic in Mexico. This species was originally described from specimens collected in the state of Morelos in 1970; however, very few occurrence records have been published since. During an ovitrap survey of mosquitoes in 2018, eggs of Ae. gabriel were collected for the 1st time in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Aedes gabriel appears to have become common and the species is frequently found in ovitraps, and often confused with other common species of Aedes, such as Ae. epactius, Ae. podographicus, Ae. aegypti, and Ae. albopictus. Females of Ae. gabriel are highly anthropophagous and persistent biters in wild habits during the rainy season. Although the medical importance of Ae. gabriel is unknown, its biting habitats and increasing abundance indicate that the potential importance of this species should not be neglected by the public health officials of Mexico.

In his revision of the Terrens group of Finlaya (currently Protomacleaya; Wilkerson and Linton 2015) of Aedes, Robert Schick (1970a, 1970b) recognized 28 nominal species and 2 forms, 10 of which are found in Mexico: Ae. amabilis Schick, Ae. diazi Schick, Ae. gabriel Schick, Ae. homeopus Dyar, Ae. idanus Schick, Ae. podographicus Dyar and Knab, Ae. schroederi Schick, Ae. sumidero Schick, Ae. tehuantepec Schick, and Ae. vargasi Schick. All species are endemic in Mexico except Ae. homeopus which also occurs in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama and Ae. podographicus, which is also found in Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela. A few more studies were conducted in the 1970s regarding mosquito distribution in Mexico (e.g., Arnell and Nielsen 1972; Díaz-Nájera 1972; Zavortink 1972; Díaz-Nájera and Vargas 1973; Arnell 1976; Heinemann and Belkin 1977; Vargas 1979a, 1979b). However, the lack of efforts in subsequent years to update the Mexican mosquito species checklist has restricted our knowledge on the current distribution, not only of the Terrens group of Aedes (Protomacleaya) but of all Mexican species.

Although limited studies document the distribution of the Terrens group in Mexico, some new records have been recently reported (Díaz-López 2012; Pérez-Ventura 2014; Ortega-Morales et al. 2015, 2018a). Excluding Ae. podographicus, which is probably the most common species in the Terrens group in the coastal regions of Mexico (Ortega-Morales et al. 2010, 2015, 2018b; Casas-Martínez et al. 2012; Baak-Baak et al. 2016), the rest of the species in this group are considered uncommon in the country.

Due to recent outbreaks of chikungunya and Zika in Mexico during 2014–15, national mosquito surveillance programs intensified the use of ovitraps for Ae. aegypti (L.) and Ae. albopictus (Skuse) surveillance. Ovitraps are 1-liter dark plastic cups, filled with tap water and lined with a strip of filter paper along the water margin. A total of 250,000 ovitraps are placed in 712 locations, covering all 32 states of the country (Ortega-Morales et al. 2018a). In Hidalgo (Fig. 1), a total of 881 ovitraps are monitored across the state.

Fig. 1.

Distribution of Aedes gabriel in Mexico.

Fig. 1.

Distribution of Aedes gabriel in Mexico.

On April 16, 2018, mosquito eggs were collected from ovitraps placed in Jaltocán, Hidalgo (21°7′47.84″N, 98°32′18.33″W; 232 m) (Fig. 1). The strips of filter paper were removed from the ovitrap, labeled, and preserved in plastic bags with wet cotton swabs to maintain humidity. All strips from ovitraps in Hidalgo were transported to the Entomological and Bioassay Research Unit of San Luis Potosí State. Eggs were hatched and reared to adults. Mosquitoes were identified using morphological identification keys.

Aedes gabriel was identified in association with Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Aedes gabriel has been previously reported in the states of Morelos, Jalisco, and Zacatecas (Schick 1970a, Heinemann and Belkin 1977); this represents the 1st record of this species in Hidalgo State. Although in Mexico ovitraps are used for surveying the presence of medically important mosquito species such as Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus, reports of the presence of nontarget species in ovitraps are increasing (Ortega-Morales et al. 2018a). Some of these species can be confused with Ae. aegypti and/or Ae. albopictus by staff in taxonomy (Fig. 2 shows scaling patterns on scuta of common Aedes recovered in the ovitraps). Recently, the list of mosquito species that occur in the Hidalgo State was published (Ortega-Morales et al. 2018b).

Fig. 2.

Scaling patterns on scuta of common Aedes species collected in ovitraps in Mexico: (A) Ae. gabriel, (B) Ae. podographicus, (C) Ae. epactius, (D) Ae. aegypti, and (E) Ae. albopictus.

Fig. 2.

Scaling patterns on scuta of common Aedes species collected in ovitraps in Mexico: (A) Ae. gabriel, (B) Ae. podographicus, (C) Ae. epactius, (D) Ae. aegypti, and (E) Ae. albopictus.

With the addition of Ae. gabriel, 57 species are now known to occur in Hidalgo State. Based on current knowledge of species distributions, the state of Hidalgo has the 4th-greatest mosquito species richness in Mexico, behind Veracruz (n = 116), Tamaulipas (n = 82), and Quintana Roo (n = 81). Females of Ae. gabriel have been collected approaching and biting humans in oak (Quercus laurina Bonpl.) forests during the day throughout the rainy season, when they are more abundant. Females are persistent biters and have been observed biting even if the host is moving. Although the medical importance of Ae. gabriel is currently unknown, the potential role of this species as a vector of arboviruses should not be underestimated in the ongoing Mexican surveillance programs.

We thank the personnel of the Health Jurisdiction No. 10 from Huejutla, Hidalgo, for collecting Ae. gabriel eggs strips from ovitraps placed in Jaltocán. We also thank the personnel of the Entomological and Bioassay Research Unit of San Luis Potosí State for rearing the immature stages of Ae. gabriel collected in Hidalgo; and to Audrey Lenhart for English-language improvements to this paper.

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Author notes

1

Departamento de Parasitología, Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro Unidad Laguna, Periférico Raúl López Sánchez y carretera a Santa Fe, Torreón, Coahuila 27084, Mexico.

2

Unidad de Investigación Entomológica y de Bioensayos de San Luis Potosí, Servicios de Salud de San Luis Potosí, Prolongación Calzada de Guadalupe No. 5850, Col. Lomas de la Virgen, San Luis Potosí 78380, Mexico.

3

Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango, Avenida Universidad s/n Fracc. Filadelfia, Gómez Palacio, Durango 35010, Mexico.

4

Unidad de Bioensayos–Centro Regional de Control de Vectores Panchimalco, Servicios de Salud de Morelos, Emiliano Zapata 95, Jojutla, Morelos 62900, Mexico.

5

Centro Nacional de Programas Preventivos y Control de Enfermedades, Benjamín Franklin 132, Col. Escandón, Mexico City 11800, Mexico.