Sampling methods for phlebotomine sandflies


Dr B. Alexander, MS-FIOCRUZ Centro de Pesquisas Rene Rachou, Av. Augusto de Lima 1715, Cx. Postal 1743, Belo Horizonte MG 30190–002, Brazil.


A review is presented of methods for sampling phlebotomine sandflies (Diptera: Psychodidae). Among ∼500 species of Phlebotominae so far described, mostly in the New World genus Lutzomyia and the Old World genus Phlebotomus, about 10% are known vectors of Leishmania parasites or other pathogens. Despite being small and fragile, sandflies have a wide geographical range with species occupying a considerable diversity of ecotopes and habitats, from deserts to humid forests, so that suitable methods for collecting them are influenced by environmental conditions where they are sought. Because immature phlebotomines occupy obscure terrestrial habitats, it is difficult to find their breeding sites. Therefore, most trapping methods and sampling procedures focus on sandfly adults, whether resting or active. The diurnal resting sites of adult sandflies include tree holes, buttress roots, rock crevices, houses, animal shelters and burrows, from which they may be aspirated directly or trapped after being disturbed. Sandflies can be collected during their periods of activity by interception traps, or by using attractants such as bait animals, CO2 or light. The method of trapping used should: (a) be suited to the habitat and area to be surveyed, (b) take into account the segment of the sandfly population to be sampled (species, sex and reproduction condition) and (c) yield specimens of appropriate condition for the study objectives (e.g. identification of species present, population genetics or vector implication). Methods for preservation and transportation of sandflies to the laboratory also depend on the objectives of a particular study and are described accordingly.