Research Highlights

Kerala mosquito species gets new name

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.8 Published online 18 January 2020

A species of mosquito from the southern Indian state of Kerala got a new name almost 50 years after living with the name of one of its close cousins.

The species has now been named Heizmannia rajagopalani after medicial entomologist Pyalore K. Rajagopalan, known for his work on the Kyasanur Forest Disease (Monkey Fever).

The subgenus Heizmannia of the genus Heizmannia Ludlow comprises a group of 33 mosquito species widely distributed in East Asia.When the first specimens of the mosquito were collected in Kerala in the 1970s, they were misidentified as Heizmannia metallica, a species found in Malaysia.

Researchers from the ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) in Puducherry, of which Rajagopalan was a former Director, collected and reared the mosquito larvae from fallen cocoa shells and discarded tires in Kottayam and Iddukki Districts of Kerala. Upon taxonomic examination, they found that the specimens differed distinctly from the Malaysian species Heizmannia metallica

The Indian species is medium-sized with metallic iridescent and snow-white markings on head and thorax, they report."It is unique among members of the subgenus in possessing a distinct combination of scaling with deep blue metallic reflections and proboscis slightly longer than the fore femur," the report says.


References

1. Natarajan, R. et al. Heizmannia rajagopalani n. sp. (Diptera: Culicidae) in Kerala, India, a species previously misidentified as Hz. metallica (Leicester). Zootaxa 4722, 472-478 (2020)  doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4722.5.5