Subfamily Anophelinae Grassi, 1900

Type genus: 

Anopheles Meigen, 1818. [In Opinion 547, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (1959) placed “Anophelinae (correction of Anophelina) Theobald, 1901” on the Official List of Family-Group Names in Zoology. However, the use of Anophelinae by Grassi (1900) has historical precedence for priority.]


Subfamily Anophelinae includes 501 formally recognised species. Many genetic species of sibling species complexes await formal names. The subfamily is divided into three genera: Anopheles, Bironella and Chagasia. Mosquitoes belonging to these genera are referred to as 'anophelines'.


Adult anophelines are easily recognised by their appearance. Most species stand with the body inclined at an angle of 30‒45° to the surface and have dark and pale spots of scales on the veins of the wings. Some species have the wing veins entirely covered with dark scales. The maxillary palpi of both sexes are about as long as the proboscis (except in Bironella). The palpi of females sometimes have semi-erect scales that give them a rather shaggy appearance. The scutellum is evenly rounded in Anopheles and Bironella and tri-lobed in Chagasia. The abdominal sterna, and usually the terga, are completely or nearly devoid of scales. Anopheline larvae lack a respiratory siphon, the head is longer than wide and pairs of palmate setae are normally present on some or all of abdominal segments I‒VII. See Culicidae.

Phylogenetic relationships: 

Subfamily Anophelinae is a monophyletic lineage basal to all other Culicidae, and genus Chagasia is a monophyletic lineage basal to other Anophelinae. Genus Anopheles is not demonstrably monophyletic with regard to genus Bironella. See Harbach & Kitching (1998), Sallum et al. (2000), Sallum et al. (2002), Krzywinski et al. (2001a, 2001b), Harbach & Kitching (2005), Harbach (2007) and Harbach & Kitching (2016).

Bionomics and disease relations: 

Anopheline larvae are found principally in ground water, but some species are restricted to plant cavities. All species rest at the water surface and feed by rotating the head trough 180° to draw food particles into the mouth with their mouth brushes. Most species utilise stagnant or relatively still water, and even those that are associated with fast flowing streams actually occur in niches where currents are substantially reduced by vegetation, debris or other objects. Most anopheline adults are active at night and during twilight periods. They rest in protected places during the day. Females feed on warm-blooded vertebrates, primarily mammals, but some species feed largely on birds. Many species readily attack humans. The hum from the wings of anophelines is low-pitched and almost inaudible to humans unless the mosquito is hovering close to the ears.

Species of Bironella and Chagasia are of no medical or economic importance. Anopheles contains the mosquitoes that transmit malarial parasites to humans and other animals. Some species of Anopheles also transmit microfilariae and arboviruses. Because of its relation to human health, Anopheles has been the subject of more scientific study than any other mosquito genus.


Most species of the subfamily belong to genus Anopheles, which occurs in temperate, subtropical and tropical areas of the world except for island groups in the Pacific and isolated islands in the Atlantic. Bironella and Chagasia are small genera, restricted to the Australasian and Neotropical Regions, respectively.

Principal references: 

Lane, 1953 (Neotropical Region); Belkin, 1962 (taxonomy, South Pacific); Cova-Garcia, 1961 (Venezuela); Forattini, 1962 (Neotropical Region); Reid, 1968 (taxonomy, Malaya and Borneo); Tanaka et al., 1979 (taxonomy, Japan); Sallum et al., 2000, 2002 (phylogeny); Harbach & Kitching, 2005, 2016 (phylogeny); Foster et al., 2017 (phylogeny); Foster et al., 2017 (phylogeny).


Anopheles (see).
Bironella (see).
Chagasia (see).

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith