In 2011, Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) were collected at 16 locations covering four regions
of Belgium with Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI) traps and at two locations with Rothamsted suction traps
(RSTs). Quantification of the collections and morphological identification showed important variations in
abundance and species diversity between individual collection sites, even for sites located in the same region.
However, consistently higher numbers of Culicoides midges were collected at some sites compared with others.
When species abundance and diversity were analysed at regional level, between-site variation disappeared. Overall,
species belonging to the subgenus Avaritia together with Culicoides pulicaris (subgenus Culicoides) were the most
abundant, accounting for 80% and 96% of all midges collected with RSTs and OVI traps, respectively. Culicoides were
present during most of the year, with Culicoides obsoletus complex midges found from 9 February until 27 December.
Real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction screening for Schmallenberg virus in the heads of collected
midges resulted in the first detection of the virus in August 2011 and identified C. obsoletus complex, Culicoides
chiopterus and Culicoides dewulfi midges as putative vector species. At Libramont in the south of Belgium, no
positive pools were identified.