The biology of Simulium erythrocephalum and S. chelevini (Diptera, Simuliidae): Morpho-logical, ecological and molecular data

  • K. B. Sukhomlin Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • M. O. Zinchenko Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • O. P. Zinchenko Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • V. S. Tepliuk Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • Y. V. Biletskyi Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • V. V. Ivantsiv Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • M. G. Biletska Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • L. V. Buslenko Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
  • V. V. Ivantsiv Lutsk National Technical University
  • S. V. Budnik Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University
Keywords: black fly; subgenus Boophthora; Ukraine; mitochondrial DNA; cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI); taxonomy; genetic differences; phyloge-netic relationships.


The subgenus Boophthora is a typical Palearctic taxon, which includes only 6 species, among them. Simulium erythrocephalum has a transpalearctic distribution. In Europe, Adler notes only the species S. erythrocephalum, and Yankovsky – two species S. (Boophthora) erythrocephalum and S. (Boophthora) chelevini. According to morphological characteristics, these species differ in their life stages. We have studied the development of S. erythrocephalum and S. chelevini from three rivers of Volyn region, Ukraine (Styr, Chornoguzka, Putylivka) from 2017 to 2019. We used the EPPO PM7 / 129 standard. Collected samples, 615-bp fragments of the COI gene were sequenced from five individuals of S. erythrocephalum and five individuals of S. chelevini and compared with four samples of S. erythrocephalum from the GenBank. We obtained the nucleotide sequence of S. chelevini. All of the S. erythrocephalum samples from Ukraine had 692 bases, the S. erythrocephalum samples from Armenia had 673 bases. S. erythrocephalum and S. chelevini did not have any intraspecific variations. These intraspecific variations were not larger than the interspecific variations. It has been proved that the populations of S. erythrocephalum and S. chelevini from medium and small rivers of Volyn do not differ in biological, behavioural and genetic characteristics. Comparison of S. erythrocephalum and S. chelevini life stages showed clear differences in 20 morphological features, which are probably manifestations of phenotypic variability. Comparison of species with data from the GenBank from Spain and Armenia on the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene confirmed the opinion that S. erythrocephalum and S. chelevini are one species. On the phylogenetic tree, the data are not grouped, there is no clear separation of the clades. Bootstrap values are 95–100%, which may indicate a significant similarity of all studied samples and the lack of isolation of individual morphotypes from Volyn, Spain and Armenia. To finally confirm the taxonomic position of these two species, additional research is needed covering more individuals from different parts of Europe and analysis of more genes.


Adler, P. H. (2021). World blackflies (Diptera: Simuliidae): A comprehensive revision of the taxonomic and geographical inventory. Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson.

Andrianov, B. V., Goryacheva, I. I., Vlasov, S. V., Gorelova, T. V., Harutyunova, M. V., Harutyunova, K. V., Mayilyan, K. R., & Zakharov, I. A. (2015). Identification of potentially invasive species of black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) from Armenia based on an analysis of variability in the mt DNA barcode of the cox1 gene and chromosomal polymorphism. Russian Journal of Genetics, 51(3), 289–299.

Bardin, O. (2001). Nuisance due to Simulium (Boophthora) erythrocephalum (De Geer, 1776) (Diptera, Simuliidae) in France. Parasite, 8, 161–162.

Bernotiene, R., & Bartkeviciene, G. (2012). The relationship between water temperature and the development cycle beginning and duration in three black fly species. Journal of Insect Science, 13(1), 1–15.

Chubareva, L. A., & Petrova, N. A. (2008). Citologicheskie karty politennyh hromosom i nekotorye morfologicheskie osobennosti krovososushchih moshek Rossii i sopredel’nyh stran (Diptera: Simuliidae): Atlas [Cytological maps of polytene chromosomes and some morphological peculiarities in the blood-sucking black-flies of Russia and adjacent countries (Diptera: Simuliidae): An atlas]. Research Fellowship KMK, Saint Petersburg (in Russian).

Crease, T. J. (1999). The complete sequence for the mitochondrial genome of Daphnia pulex (Cladocera: Crustacea). Gene, 233, 89–99.

Crosskey, R. W. (1990). The natural history of blackflies. Wiley, Chichester.

Folmer, O., Black, M., Hoeh, W., Lutz, R., & Vrijenhoek, R. (1994). DNA primers for amplification of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I from diverse metazoan invertebrates. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology, 3(5), 294–299.

Ham, P. J., & Blanco, A. E. (1984). Maintenance of Simulium (Wilhelmia) lineatum Meigen and Simulium erythrocephalum de Geer through successive generations in the laboratory. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 62, 870–877.

Ignjatovic-Cupina, A., Zgomba, M., Vujanovic, L., Konjevic, A., Marinkovic, D., & Petric, D. (2006). An outbreak of Simulium erythrocephalum (De Geer, 1776) in the region of Novi Sad (Serbia) in 2006. Acta Entomologica Serbica, suppl. 1, 97–114.

Ivashchenko, L. A. (1968). Novye vidy moshek (Simuliidae) [New species of black flies (Simuliidae)]. Parasitology, 12(4), 306–312 (in Rassian).

Jedlička, L., & Halgoš, J. (1982). Daily biting rate of black flies on horses in the Danubian lowlands (Diptera, Simuliidae). Wiodomošci Parazytologiczne, 28, 41–44.

Jedlička, L., Kudela, M., & Stloukalova, V. (2004). Key to the identification of blackfly pupae (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Central Europe. Biologia, 59(15), 157–178.

Kaplich, V. M., Sukhomlin, E. B., & Zinchenko, A. P. (2015). Moshki (Diptera: Simuliidae) smeshannyh lesov Evropy [Black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) of European mixed forests]. Novoe Znanie, Minsk (in Rassian).

Knoz, J. (1965). To identification of Czechoslovakian black-flies (Diptera, Simuliidae). Folia Facultatis Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Purkynianae Brunensis. Biologia, 6, 1–52.

Kumar, S., Stecher, G., Li, M., Knyaz, C., & Tamura, K. (2018). MEGA X: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis across computing platforms. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35, 1547–1549.

Nei, M., & Kumar, S. (2000). Molecular evolution and phylogenetics. Oxford University Press, New York.

Niesiołowski, S., & Bokłak, E. (2001). Meszki (Simuliidae, Diptera): Fauna słodkowodna Polski [Black flies (Simuliidae, Diptera): Freshwater fauna of Poland]. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, Lodź (in Polish).

Panchenko, A. A. (2004). K analizu sistematicheskih i sinonimicheskih nazvanij vidov moshek (Diptera, Simuliidae) Ukrainy [To the analysis of systematic and synonymous names of Ukraine black flies species (Diptera, Simuliidae)]. Vіsnik Doneckogo Nacіonalnogo Unіversitetu, Serіya A, Prurodnuchі Nauky, 1(2), 404–410 (in Rassian).

Post, R. J. (1983). The annual cycle of Simulium erythrocephalum (Diptera: Simuliidae) at a site in Norfolk. Freshwater Biology, 13, 379–388.

Reidelbach, J., & Christl, H. A. (2002). Quantitative investigation into the temporal and spatial variations in the emergence of adult blackflies (Diptera: Simuliidae) from the Breitenbach, a small upland stream in Germany. Limnologica, 32(3), 206–235.

Rubtsov, I. A. (1940). Moshki (sem. Simuliidae). Fauna SSSR. Dvukrylye [Black flies (family Simuliidae). Fauna of the USSR. Diptera]. Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow, Leningrad (in Rassian).

Rubtsov, I. A. (1956). Moshki (sem. Simuliidae). Fauna SSSR. Dvukrylye [Black‐flies (family Simuliidae). Fauna of the USSR. Diptera]. Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow, Leningrad (in Rassian).

Ruiz-Arrondo, I., Garza-Hernández, J. A., Reyes-Villanueva, F., Lucientes-Curdi, J., & Rodríguez-Pérez, M. A. (2017). Human-landing rate, gonotrophic cycle length, survivorship, and public health importance of Simulium erythrocephalum in Zaragoza, Northeastern Spain. Parasites and Vectors, 10, 175–183.

Ruiz-Arrondo, I., Hernandez-Triana, L. M., Ignjatovic-Cupina, A., Nikolova, N., Garza-Hernandez, J. A., Rodriguez-Perez, M. A., Oteo, J. A., Fooks, A. R., & Lucientes Curdi, J. (2018). DNA barcoding of blackflies (Diptera: Simuliidae) as a tool for species identification and detection of hidden diversity in the eastern regions of Spain. Parasites and Vectors, 11(1), 463–469.

Sebastiani, F., Meiswinkel, R., Gomulski, L. M., Guglielmino, C. R., Mellor, P. S., Malacrida, A. R., & Gasperi, G. (2001). Molecular differentiation of the Old World Culicoides imicola species complex (Diptera, Ceratopogonidae), inferred using random amplified polymorphic DNA markers. Molecular Ecology, 10, 1773–1786.

Simon, C., Frati, F., Beckenbach, A., Crespi, B., Liu, H., & Flook, P. (1994). Evolution, weighting, and phylogenetic utility of mitochondrial gene sequences and a compilation of conserved PCR primers. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 87, 1–51.

Sitarz, M., Buczek, A., & Buczek, W. (2021). Skin lesions and systemic reactions in humans infested by blackflies (Diptera: Simullidae) in recreational areas in Southeastern Poland. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10, 788–796.

Sukhomlin, E., Zinovieva, O., & Kaplich, V. (2019). O patogennyh vidah moshek (Diptera, Simuliidae) podzony smeshannyh lesov Vostochnoj Evropy [About pathogenic species of black flies (Diptera, Simuliidae) of the Eastern Europe mixed forest subzone]. Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University Scientific Bulletin, Series Biological Sciences, 387, 81–90 (in Rassian).

Sukhomlin, K. B., & Zinchenko, O. P. (2007). Moshky (Diptera: Simuliidae) Volynskoho Polissia [Black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Volin Polissya]. Vezha, Lutsk (in Ukranian).

Szalanski, A. I., Owens, C. B., Lewter, J. A., & Broce, A. B. (2006). Genetic structure of Aedes vexans (Diptera: Culicidae) populations from Central United States based on mitochondrial ND5 sequences. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 99(1), 157–163.

Tamura, K., Dudley, J., Nei, M., & Kumar, S. (2007). MEGA4: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis (MEGA) soft – ware version 4.0. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 24(8), 1596–1599.

Vujanovic, L., Jovanovic, M., Golusin, Z., Gajinov, Z., & Jakovljevic, S. (2020). Cutaneous manifestations caused by Simulium erythrocephalum bites in humans – a case series. Medicinski Pregled, 73, 59–62.

Werner, D., & Kampen, H. (2012). Simulium (Boophthora) erythrocephalum (De Geer, 1776), subgenus and species new to Armenia. Zoology in the Middle East, 56, 85–90.

Yankovsky, A. V. (2002). Opredelitel moshek (Diptera, Simuliidae) Rossii i sopredelnyh territorij (byvshego SSSR) [Keys to black flies (Diptera, Simuliidae) of Russia and adjacent territories (the former USSR)]. Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg (in Rassian).

Zinchenko, M. O., Sukhomlin, K. B., Zinchenko, O. P., & Tepliuk, V. S. (2021). The biology of Simulium noelleri and Simulium dolini: Morphological, ecological and molecular data. Biosystems Diversity. 29(2), 180–184.

Živković, V., & Burány, B. (1972). An outbreak of Boophthora erythrocephala (Diptera, Simuliidae) in Yugoslavia in 1970. Acta Veterinaria, 22, 133–142.


Most read articles by the same author(s)