Submitted to: Entomological News
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 14, 2009
Publication Date: December 30, 2009
Citation: Reeves, W.K. 2009. Lutzomyia (Helcocyrtomyia) Apache Young and Perkins (Diptera: Psychodidae) feeds on reptiles. Entomological News. 120/574-577.
Interpretive Summary: Phlebotomine sand flies are can transmit bacteria, some worms and blood parasites, and animal viruses. A sand fly named, Lutzomyia apache, from the western USA was associated with outbreaks of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Additional studies indicated that the range of L. apache overlapped with historic outbreaks of VSV. This is significant because sand flies in the eastern USA are vectors and reservoirs of VSV. In addition to VSV, sand flies in the USA are vectors of sand fly fever viruses and some malarial parasites of wildlife. Most North American sand flies in the subgenus Helcocyrtomyia feed on reptiles. The host for Lutzomyia apache was unknown. Two females of Lutzomyia apache were observed to feed and fully engorged on lizard blood. Females did not bite or feed on humans nor did they feed on sheep or chicken blood in the laboratory. The observation of blood feeding on a reptile and the lack of attraction to humans, mammal, or bird blood indicates that Lutzomyia apache is unlikely to feed on mammals and or be a natural vector of vesicular stomatitis.
Phlebotomine sand flies are vectors of bacteria, parasites, and viruses. In the western USA a sand fly, Lutzomyia apache Young and Perkins, was initially associated with epizootics of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), because sand flies were trapped at sites of an outbreak. Additional studies indicated that the range of L. apache overlapped with historic epizootics of VSV. Other Nearctic species of Lutzomyia were incriminated as the vectors and reservoirs of VSV in the eastern USA. In addition to VSV, Lutzomyia spp. are the primary vectors of 26 of the known 38 serotypes of phleboviruses and some saurian malaria, Plasmodium spp. In the Nearctic region species in the subgenus Helcocyrtomyia include L. apache, L. oppidana (Dampf), L. stewarti (Mangabeira and Galindo), and L. vexator (Coquillett). The vertebrate hosts of L. apache were unknown but originally presumed to include mammals. Two females of L. apache were observed to feed and fully engorged on lizard blood. Females did not probe or feed on humans nor did they feed on sheep or chicken blood in the laboratory. The observation of blood feeding on a reptile and the lack of attraction to humans, mammalian, or avian blood indicates that L. apache is unlikely to feed on mammals and or be a natural vector of vesicular stomatitis.