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Host odor synergizes attraction of virgin female Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae)

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Medical Entomology
Issue number5
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)779-787
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis Lutz & Neiva (Diptera: Psychodidae) is the principle vector of Leishmania chagasi/infantum Cunha and Chagas, the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis. The disease is transmitted by blood-feeding females, which seek aggregations of males above potential hosts both to mate and blood-feed. Pheromones produced by male sand flies could potentially be used as lures in L. longipalpis control programs. We investigated whether attraction of male and female sand flies to pheromone could be increased by addition of host odor. Pheromone was attractive to females in the absence of host odor, although a 10-fold increase in concentration did not increase numbers attracted or reduce the proportion of flies not responding during trials, Odors from Syrian hamsters, Mesocricetus auratus, were more attractive to females than air when presented without sex pheromone, but this effect was masked by hexane, suggesting attraction to host odor alone may be relatively weak. Addition of hamster odor both increased the number of virgin female L. longipalpis attracted to sex pheromone (relative to a solvent control) and reduced the number of nonresponders, indicating that host odor may have both a synergistic and activating effect. Male sand flies were not attracted to pheromone with or without host odor, although addition of pheromone did counteract an apparent avoidance of host odor combined with a hexane control. These results indicate L. longipalpis pheromones function primarily to attract females and that their efficacy as lures may be increased through addition of host odor, or by deploying traps in the vicinity of host animals.