In the past decade, there have been regular outbreaks of bluetongue (BT) in many parts of Europe. Owing to the presence of BT disease and its vectors in countries adjacent to Switzerland, an initial entomological survey was conducted in 2003, which established the presence of several midges of the genus Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Subsequently, a sentinel herd monitoring system was established with the primary entomological aim being the determination and further study of Culicoides population compositions. Insects were collected in 2005 and 2006 at seven sentinel herd sites in the south of Switzerland (canton of Ticino) near the border of Italy, using Onderstepoort-type light traps. This region is botanically and zoologically similar to the Mediterranean and is one of the warmest and most humid areas of the country, hence it is considered a potential access path for BT disease into Switzerland. Collections were made at four cattle farms, two equestrian centres and one goat farm. Sites were sampled four times per month from June to October. Traps were operated from dusk until dawn and samples were collected monthly for analysis through microscopy as well as a Culicoides imicola-specific PCR. Results confirmed the absence of C. imicola (Kieffer) and demonstrated that the potential BT virus vectors are highly abundant, notably: Culicoides obsoletus (Meigen), Culicoides scoticus (Downes & Kettle) and Culicoides dewulfi (Goetghebuer) subgenus Avaritia and Culicoides pulicaris (Linnaeus) subgenus Culicoides. These findings expand the current knowledge of Culicoides population composition in the southern part of the Switzerland. Culicoides cataneii (Clastrier), Culicoides flavipulicaris (Dzhafarov), Culicoides indistinctus (Khalaf), Culicoides nubeculosus (Meigen) and species of the Grisescens complex were reported for the first time in Switzerland.