Characteristics of resting habitats of adult Phlebotomus papatasi in Neot Hakikar, an oasis south of the Dead Sea



Knowledge about diurnal resting sites of sand flies is scanty and often anecdotal. In this study, we explored a part natural – part agricultural oasis in Neot Hakikar, Israel, looking for sand fly resting sites. To achieve this, we developed a new type of emergence trap. Sixteen types of microhabitats were examined and in seven of these, we also investigated the rodent burrows. We found that Phlebotomus papatasi showed clear preferences for resting sites characterized by vegetation cover, type of vegetation, and the presence of a mulch layer. In habitats with bare soil and little shade, few or no resting sand flies were found outside rodent burrows. Apart from the trunks of date trees, most resting P. papatasi were found in disturbed habitats, especially in large piles of organic waste and in a plowed field. Though catches from rodent burrow exits were always higher than from the nearby ground, it is safe to assume that the few burrows in this vast oasis do not play an important role for breeding and resting of P. papatasi. It also appears that disturbing the natural environment further increases the already considerable sand fly population.