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Biology of Triatominae

S.S. Catala1, F. Noireau2,t and J.-P. Dujardin2

1CRILAR-CONICET, Centro Regional de investigation Cientifica de La Rioja,

Anillaco (La Rioja), Argentina, 2Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD), UMR 177 Intertryp, Montpellier, France

Chapter Outline

Introduction 145

General biology of vectors 146

Development 146 Reproduction 148 Hematophagy 148 Habitat 150 Dispersion 151 Population dynamics 153

Insight into the biology and ecology of Triatominae in the silvatic environment 156

Interest of a trapping device 156 Sylvatic habitat 157 Access to host 158 Survival strategy 158

Vectorial capacity and domesticity 159

Adaptation to Trypanosoma cruzi 159 Blood feeding habits 159 Domesticity 160

Vector control strategy 161

Entomological surveillance 161 Eradication, elimination, reduction 161 Acknowledgments 162 Glossary 162 References 162


Of the 140 species of Triatominae currently recognized,1 research has traditionally concentrated on those of greatest epidemiological significance as domestic vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, the agent of Chagas disease. It means only a few of them, mainly Triatoma infestans, Triatoma brasiliensis, and Panstrongylus megistus from

^ Deceased.

American Trypanosomiasis Chagas Disease. DOI:

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the Southern Cone countries, and Rhodnius prolixus and Triatoma dimidiata from the Andean Pact countries and parts of Central America. These five species, the main vectors of Chagas disease, represent 3 genera in 2 tribes, while the Triatominae are admittedly composed of 17 genera and 5 tribes. Our knowledge on the biology of Triatominae is thus obviously fragmentary.

Most of the Triatominae are found in the New World, a very few others in the Old World. They are hematophagous bugs living in close association with their sil- vatic hosts in habitats such as palm-tree crowns, bird nests, rodent burrows, opossum lodges, and rockpiles. For some genera, the classification of Triatominae reflects these associations, with for instance the Rhodnius adapted to the palm-trees, the Psammolestes living in bird nests, the Panstrongylus and Paratriatoma associated with burrows. However, with a very few exceptions, these species are opportunistic and feed on other hosts too, including the human host.

Since one of their commonly observed behaviors is to enter domestic and perido- mestic structures (“intrusion,” see “Intrusion” section), with some of them trying to colonize the human habitat (“domiciliation,” see “Domiciliation” section), the silva- tic species of Triatominae represent a possible source of infection by T. cruzi, so that they deserve much more interest. Due to their generally nocturnal habits and hidden refuges, they may be hard to collect in the field. In this regard, the design of a new trapping device was a welcome initiative.2

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