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Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo

Print version ISSN 0036-4665On-line version ISSN 1678-9946

Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo vol.58  São Paulo  2016  Epub Dec 08, 2016

https://doi.org/10.1590/s1678-9946201658087 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

SAND FLIES (DIPTERA: PSYCHODIDAE) IN AN ENDEMIC AREA OF LEISHMANIASIS IN AQUIDAUANA MUNICIPALITY, PANTANAL OF MATO GROSSO DO SUL , BRAZIL

Helen Rezende de FIGUEIREDO 1  

Mirella Ferreira da Cunha SANTOS 2  

Aline Etelvina CASARIL 1   3  

Jucelei Oliveira de Moura INFRAN 3  

Leticia Moraes RIBEIRO 3  

Carlos Eurico dos Santos FERNANDES 4  

Alessandra Gutierrez de OLIVEIRA 1   3  

1 Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Programa de Pós-graduação em Doenças Infecciosas e Parasitárias, Faculdade de Medicina Dr Hélio Mandetta, Cidade Universitária s/n, 79070-900 Campo Grande, MS, Brazil. E-mails: helenrezende.bio@gmail.com; aline.casaril@gmail.com; alessandra.oliveira@ufms.br

2 Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul, Rua dos Dentistas, 500, Bairro Arnaldo Estevão de Figueiredo, 79043-250, Campo Grande, MS, Brazil. E-mail: mirellabio@hotmail.com

3 Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Laboratório de Parasitologia Humana, Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde, Cidade Universitária s/n, 79070-900 Campo Grande, MS, Brazil. E-mail: alessandra.oliveira@ufms.br; aline.casaril@gmail.com, juinfran@gmail.com

4 Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Laboratório de Patologia, Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde, Cidade Universitária s/n, 79070-900 Campo Grande, MS, Brazil. E-mail: carlos.fernandes@ufms.br


SUMMARY

The Aquidauana municipality is considered an endemic area of leishmaniasis and an important tourist site in Mato Grosso do Sul State. The aim of this study was to investigate the sand fly fauna in the city of Aquidauana. Captures were carried out twice a month, from April 2012 to March 2014 with automatic light traps and active aspiration, in the peridomicile and domicile of six residences. A total of 9,338 specimens were collected, 3,179 and 6,159 using light traps and active aspiration, respectively. The fauna consisted of: Brumptomyia brumpti, Evandromyia aldafalcaoae, Ev. evandroi, Ev. lenti, Ev. orcyi, Ev. sallesi, Ev. termitophila, Ev. walkeri, Lutzomyia longipalpis and Psathyromyia bigeniculata. The most abundant species captured was Lutzomyia longipalpis, present in all the ecotopes, predominantly in peridomicile areas, and mainly males. Leishmania DNA was not detected in the insects. It was observed the abundance of the sand fly fauna in the region, as well as the high frequency of Lu. longipalpis, the main vector of L. infantum. The results of this study show the need to increase the monitoring and more effective control measures. It is noteworthy that the studied region presents several activities related to tourism and recreation, increasing the risk of transmission of leishmaniasis to this particular human population.

KEYWORDS: Phlebotomine sand fly; Lutzomyia longipalpis; Fishing tourism.

INTRODUCTION

Sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) present medical importance because they are vectors of protozoans of the genus Leishmania, which are the etiological agents of leishmaniasis. These diseases are considered a major worldwide public health issue due to their high incidence and lethality rates1,2,3,4,5. In Mato Grosso do Sul State, leishmaniasis are rapidly expanding; cases of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) have been reported in 56 and 72 municipalities, respectively6,7. In the municipality of Aquidauana, VL has been notified since 1998, with six cases reported8. From 1999 to 2011, 162 cases were registered; in 2013, seven cases were confirmed, and one death reported, and the city is now considered an area of intense VL transmission. Regarding CL, Aquidauana is an area of moderate transmission, with five confirmed rural cases in 20137.

Approximately 900 species of sand flies are known worldwide. In Brazil, about 235 species have been reported9,10,11 and 66 of these were registered in Mato Grosso do Sul9,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19.

Sand flies are found in different climate conditions, in the wild, rural areas and often urban centers4,20,21,22. Therefore, studies regarding the fauna of these insects and their behavior are determinant aspects in the epidemiology of leishmaniasis. They are also of major importance in endemic areas as they provide basic information to design control measures of the disease by health services6,19,23,24,25,26.

Thus, this study aimed to investigate the fauna, as well as the distribution and the abundance of sand flies in the urban area of the municipality of Aquidauana, Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

Study Area

The municipality of Aquidauana (20°28'15"S, 55°47'13"W and altitude of 149 m) is located 139 km from the state capital, Campo Grande, in the western region of Mato Grosso do Sul27. According to the 2014 Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics28 census, the city population was 45,614 inhabitants. Aquidauana is situated at the edge of the plain area of the Pantanal biome. The city presents geomorphological characteristics of Maracajú plateau and the Aquidauana/ Bela Vista valley, forms the border of the territory. The river Aquidauana and the streams João Dias and Guanandy are located in the urban area of the municipality27. The climate, according to the Köppen Climate Classification System is AW, defined as a humid tropical climate. The daily temperature average starts to increase in August and reaches its peak in December29.

Six neighborhoods were selected, Bairro Alto, Pinheiro, São Francisco, São Cristovão, Guanandy and Paraíso (Fig. 1). In each of them, one residence was chosen to install two light traps, in both, the peridomicile and the domicile areas. The selection of neighborhoods followed the following criteria: notified cases of VL and/or CL human/canine cases, together with the presence of domestic animals shelters such as kennels, hen houses and pig pens.

Fig. 1 Study area and collection sites in the city of Aquidauana, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, from 2012 to 2014.  

The selected residences, as well as the neighboring houses, had fruit trees in the backyards. Bairro Alto is located in the central region with no streams nearby. Pinheiro, São Cristovão, São Francisco, Guanandy and Paraíso are located in the outskirts of the city and are delimited by the streams João Dias and Guanandy. In these neighborhoods, the traps were installed about 200 m away from the remaining riparian forest, except for the selected residence in Guanandy, which also had a pig pen.

Sand flies captures

The collections were carried out twice a month with Falcão modified light traps placed both in the domicile and the peridomicile area of the selected residences, from April 2012 to March 2014. The captures were always conducted from 6 pm to 7 am even during the period of daylight saving time. In order to increase the females sample size, captures were also performed by means of an electric mannual aspirator inside animal shelters in each of the selected residences. These collections began in November 2012 and lasted 10-15 minutes. Captured insects were identified based on the classification described by Galati30 and genera abbreviations followed the recommendation of Marcondes31.

Molecular analysis

After identification, females were grouped in pools of up to 10 insects, according to species, location area and date of capture. Later, samples were sent to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul to investigate the presence of Leishmania spp. using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. DNA samples were extracted with 5% Chelex(r) resin solution (Sigma-Aldrich, St. Louis, USA) and PCR was carried out according to the method of El Tai et al.32.

Data analysis

The Standardized Index of Species Abundance (SISA) was calculated to determine the most abundant species, according to the spatial distribution, for which 1.00 corresponds to the most abundant species33. For the diversity analysis, the Shannon's diversity index (H)34 was calculated and the measure of evenness or dominance of species was obtained using the Pielou's Index (J)35. Dispersion data, symmetry and outliers were described by using the box plot graphic. The Mann-Whitney U-test was used to compare the male-female ratio between the peri and the intradomicile areas.

RESULTS

After 7,488 hours of collection using the light traps and 72 hours of collection using the active aspiration, 9,338 sand flies were captured, distributed among the genera: Brumptomyia, Evandromyia, Lutzomyia and Psathyromyia. The fauna comprised ten species: Brumptomyia brumpti (Larrousse, 1920), Evandromyia aldafalcaoae (Santos, Andrade-Filho and Honer, 2001), Evandromyia evandroi (Costa Lima, 1932), Evandromyia lenti (Mangabeira, 1938), Evandromyia orcyi (Oliveira, Sanguinette, Almeida and Andrade Filho, 2015), Evandromyia sallesi (Galvão and Coutinho, 1939), Evandromyia termitophila (Martins, Falcão and Silva, 1964), Evandromyia walkeri (Newstead, 1914), Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz and Neiva, 1912) and Psathyromyia bigeniculata (Floch & Abonnenc 1941).

Through the use of light traps, 3,179 specimens were captured, from which 2,780 (87.45%) were males and 399 (12.55%) were females. Table 1 shows the predominance of Lu. longipalpis, with 2,957 (93.02%) specimens, followed by Evandromyia walkeri with 135 (4.25%), Ev. aldafalcaoae with 31 (0.98%) and others species totaling 56 specimens (1.76%). Although eight out of the ten species reported in this study were captured in the Guanandy neighborhood with Shannon's diversity index of 0.6046, in São Francisco, where fewer species were caught, there was a higher Shannon's index of 1.3103, with a Pielou equitability of 0.7312 (Table 1).

Table 1 Distribution of sandfly species captured with Falcão trap, according to neighborhoods, intradomicile and peridomicile, gender, Shannon´s and Pielou´s indexes per species in Aquidauana, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, from April 2012 to March 2014 (n = 3179) 

Intra: intradomicile; Peri: peridomicile; M: male; F: female; Br.: Brumptomyia; Ev.: Evandromyia; Lu.: Lutzomyia; Pa.: Psathyromyia.

Lutzomyia longipalpis was the most abundant species (SISA = 1.00), ranking first in the classification (Table 2). The species was captured in all the sampled areas, especially in the peridomicile, except for the São Francisco neighborhood (Fig. 2).

Table 2 Classification of the sandflies species captured with Falcão trap according to Standardized Index of Species Abundance (SISA) in Aquidauana, MS, from April 2012 to March 2014 

Species Ranking SISA
Br. brumpti 0.02
Ev. aldafalcaoae 0.95
Ev. evandroi 0.83
Ev. lenti 0.41
Ev. orcyi 0.06
Ev. sallesi 0.50
Ev. termitophila 0.02
Ev. walkeri 0.89
Lu. longipalpis 1.00
Pa. bigeniculata 0.85

Br.: Brumptomyia; Ev.: Evandromyia; Lu.: Lutzomyia; Pa.: Psathyromyia.

Fig. 2 Log10 of the number of specimens of Lu. longipalpis according to neighborhood, sex and ecotope, captured by Falcão modified traps in the city of Aquidauana, MS, Brazil, from April 2012 to March 2014. Peri: peridomicile; Intra: domicile; Pi: Pinheiro neighborhood; S. Cr: São Cristovão neighborhood; Gua: Guanandy neighborhood ; BA: Bairro Alto neighborhood ; Par: Paraíso neighborhood ; S. Fr: São Francisco neighborhood . M; male; F: female. 

Evandromyia aldafalcaoae was the second most abundant species and presented a SISA = 0.95, despite having fewer collected specimens compared to Ev. walkeri (SISA = 0.89, the third in the ranking. Ev. aldafalcaoae was more abundant in the neighborhood Pinheiro (n = 21), where a hen house was present in the peridomicile; while Ev. walkeri (n = 135) had the highest number of individuals collected in the pig pen of the residence located in Guanandy. The species Ev. evandroi, Ev. lenti, Ev. sallesi, Pa. bigeniculata and Evandromyia orcyi were only slightly present (Table 2).

In total, both in the peridomicile and domicile areas, more males were captured than females, with a ratio of 6.97. Lu. longipalpis presented a ratio of 8.07 and Ev. walkeri 3.5. However, the species Ev. sallesi had more females than males, with a ratio of 0.75 and Ev. evandroi presented only females.

Figure 3 shows the male-to-female ratio of Lu. longipalpis correlating it to the peridomicile and domicile areas of the neighborhoods. Only in Guanandy, a statistically significant difference (p = 0.001) was observed between the two ecotopes.

Fig. 3 Male-to-female ratio of Lu. longipalpis collected with Falcão traps according to peridomicile and domicile areas of the neighborhoods in the municipality of Aquidauana, MS, Brazil, from April 2012 to March 2014. Peri: peridomicile; Intra: domicile; Pi: Pinheiro neighborhood; S. Cr: São Cristovão neighborhood; Gua: Guanandy neighborhood; BA: Bairro Alto neighborhood; Par: Paraíso neighborhood; Asterisk and dot: outliers values; p < 0.05 for statistically significant. 

Aspiration

Seven species totaling 6,159 specimens were collected, with 5,120 (83.13%) males and 1,039 (16.87%) females: Ev. aldafalcaoae, Ev. evandroi, Ev. sallesi, Ev. walkeri, Lu. longipalpis, Pa. bigeniculata and Ev. orcyi.

Table 3 describes the species captured in each ecotope and Table 4 shows their SISA. Lutzomyia longipalpis was the most frequent species (97.68%) and was present in all the neighborhoods, ranking first (SISA = 1.00). Evandromyia walkeri ranked second and Ev. sallesi ranked third. Other species accounted for 0.16% of the total.

Table 3 Distribution of sandfly species captured using aspiration in peridomicile according to neighborhoods and gender in Aquidauana, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, from April 2012 to March 2014 (n = 6159) 

Peri: peridomicile; M: male; F: female; Br.: Brumptomyia; Ev.: Evandromyia; Lu.: Lutzomyia; Pa.: Psathyromyia.

Table 4 Classification of the sandflies species captured using aspiration according to Standardized Index of Species Abundance (SISA) in Aquidauana, MS, from April 2012 to March 2014 

Species Ranking SISA
Ev. aldafalcaoae 0.07
Ev. evandroi 0.21
Ev. orcyi 0.09
Ev. sallesi 0.30
Ev. walkeri 0.33
Lu. longipalpis 1.00
Pa. bigeniculata 0.04

Br.: Brumptomyia; Ev.: Evandromyia; Lu.: Lutzomyia; Pa.: Psathyromyia.

The total male-to-female ratio was 4.9; 5.1 for Lu. longipalpis and, on the contrary, Ev. sallesi presented a female predominance (0.36) (Table 3). By analyzing the male-to-female ratio of Lu. longipalpis captured using light traps, there was a significant difference between the neighborhood Bairro Alto and the neighborhoods Guanandy, Paraíso and São Cristovão (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Male-to-female ratio of Lu. longipalpis collected by aspiration, in the peridomicile of the neighborhoods in the municipality of Aquidauana, MS, from November 2012 to March 2014. Pi: Pinheiro neighborhood; S. Cr: São Cristovão neighborhood; Gua: Guanandy neighborhood; BA: Bairro Alto neighborhood; Par: Paraíso neighborhood; Asterisk and dot: outliers values; p < 0.05 for statistically significant. From the insects' total, 82.96% were captured in the following neighborhoods: Guanandy, Bairro Alto and São Cristóvão (Fig. 5).  

From the total, 82.96% of the insects were caught in the neighbohoods of Guanandy, Bairro Alto and São Cristóvão (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Number of specimens of Lu. longipalpis in Log10, collected by aspiration, according to neighborhood and sex in the municipality of Aquidauana, MS, from November 2012 to March 2014. Pi: Pinheiro neighborhood; S. Cr: São Cristovão neighborhood; Gua: Guanandy neighborhood; BA: Bairro Alto neighborhood; Par: Paraíso neighborhood; S. Fr: São Francisco neighborhood; M: male; F: female. 

Comparing the peridomicile ecotopes, the pig pen located in Guanandy presented the highest yield and the greatest variety, with eight out of the ten species collected (Fig. 6 and Table 1).

Fig. 6 Absolute number in Log10 of Lu. longipalpis, according to ecotopes and neighborhoods in the municipality of Aquidauana, MS, from April 2012 to March 2014. Pi: Pinheiro neighborhood; S. Cr: São Cristovão neighborhood; Gua: Guanandy neighborhood; BA: Bairro Alto neighborhood; Par: Paraíso neighborhood; S. Fr: São Francisco neighborhood. 

Leishmania DNA detection in the females

No Leishmania DNA was detected in the 418 females sand flies assessed through the molecular analysis.

DISCUSSION

The epidemiology of leishmaniasis is complex and thus requires flexible control strategies suitable for each region and local occurrences. Therefore, knowledge about vectors is a fundamental tool to understand the transmission dynamics in order to plan preventive and control measures. This information is especially important in the city studied, where cases of visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis are increasing. Considering that Aquidauana is a part of the Brazilian Pantanal and ecotourism tours and fishing activities are developed in this region of the state, the contact between vector and human population has been favored.

Several methods of sand flies capture have been used, but among these, light traps stand out and are widely used in fauna studies, as they are easy to use and inexpensive; although they may interfere in both the quality and the quantity of specimens collected36,37,38. On the other hand, by standardizing the collections for fortnightly captures during two consecutive years, associated with another capture technique, it was possible to increase the number of specimens collected, providing data to understand the behavior of the species present in the urban area of the city.

Considering the limitations of this type of capture, active aspiration was also performed in order to increase the number of captured females to investigate the presence of flagellates. After analyzing the performance of the two techniques, it was observed that the aspiration obtained the highest number of insects in less time gathering (72 h). In contrast, in 7,488 hours, light traps captured fewer specimens, but presented more variety. This amount could be explained by the dynamics of the capture technique; while the sand fly is attracted by light and host in one method, by in the other, the collection is active, and did not give the insect a chance to choose.

The wider variety of species observed in light traps collection has already been reported by other authors15,16,38,39,40,41,42,43. Actually, this high diversity has also been demonstrated in other municipalities located in the Pantanal. Casaril et al.26 found 12 species in a total of 7,370 specimens in the city of Corumbá, MS. In Cáceres, state of Mato Grosso, despite the lower frequency of insects, 28 different species were observed44. In Aquidauana, during the study period, ten species of sand flies were captured in a total of 9,338 individuals, differing from a previous study, conducted between 2003 and 200513, when 16 species were reported and ten of them were different from the ones captured in the present study.

It is known that changes in the environment caused by human action, such as road construction, deforestation, fires, migration and mining can modify some aspects of the sand flies' ecology, leading to modifications of the local fauna45,46,47,48. These changes were noted in Aquidauana during the studied period, and have possibly interfered with the sand fly fauna of the municipality. The fact that some species can adapt to changes occurred in their environment, while others have their frequency decreased or even disappear is already known22,26. Furthermore, both the collection sites and the methodology used in the study of Almeida et al.13 were different from those used in the present study. In this work, the collections were systematized and performed twice a month during two consecutive years. These protocol particularities may explain the differences between both studies regarding the species found.

The four most abundant species in this study were Lu. longipalpis, which had the highest number of individuals captured in both techniques used, followed by Ev. aldafacaoae, Ev. walkeri and Ev. sallesi.

An increased frequency of Lu. longipalpis was noted when compared to data reported by Almeida et al.13. It is known that the ability of a species to adapt to an environment can be influenced by environmental conditions, abiotic factors, food supply and interspecific competitive interactions49,50, therefore Lu. longipalpis could be exerting a greater selective pressure over the local species47,49,50,51, besides that, this species seems to be more anthropized17,18,19,48,52,53,54,55,56,57,58.

The urbanization of the vector strongly indicates its anthropophilic behavior and points out its important role in local transmission of the parasite, since Aquidauana is considered an area of intense VL transmission7. Previous studies have demonstrated the association of a high frequency of Lu. longipalpis in higher prevalence regions 6,54,59,60,61. This fact reinforces the species' importance of connecting the transmission to the etiological agent.

The species Ev. aldafalcaoae was found in all the ecotypes, and appears in second place in the ranking of the most abundant species. A higher frequency of this species was observed in Pinheiro neighborhood. Aquidauana is the type locality of this species' male62. Ev. aldafalcaoae has already been reported in other regions of Pantanal, such as Corumbá26, Nhecolândia63 and Caceres in Mato Grosso40. In addition to these locations, Dorval et al.64 found a single male in the domicile of a residence in Bela Vista, Mato Grosso do Sul.

Evandromyia walkeri was the third most abundant species however this species ranked second in the active aspiration. Although it has been reported in areas of forest and woods65,66,67,68, this species was captured in the peridomicile and domicile of almost all the sampled sites. The highest number of Ev. walkeri specimens was collected in the neighborhood of Guanandy, a fact that could be explained by the proximity of this location to the insect's natural habitat. This neighborhood is inserted into a riparian area of the Guanandy stream, and it is located about 100 meters away from the confluence with the Aquidauana river. The presence of Ev. walkeri at various sites in the city, even in small numbers, indicates an adaptation process to the urban and anthropic environment, considering that Aquidauana is in expansion process and natural ecotypes are decreasing.

It is highly important to know the behavior of Ev. walkeri, as it has been found naturally infected by Leishmania (Viannia) spp.69. Its participation in the transmission of CL agents has not yet been proven, but it is believed that this species may be involved in the epidemiological chain of the disease in agroforestry environments69.

Captures made by aspiration reflected a different pattern regarding the abundance index. The ranking of species had Lu. longipalpis in first place and a variation between Ev. walkeri and Ev. sallesi. Despite being in third place, Evandromyia sallesi presented a low yield in the collection, fact that was also reported by Nunes et al.54 in the municipality of Bonito, which borders the Aquidauana municipality, where a sporadic low density presence of this species was reported. Although there is no report of anthropophilic behavior, DNA from L. infantum 70 has been found in this species, enhancing its epidemiological significance.

The Guanandy neighborhood had the highest number of specimens and variety of species caught (eight out of ten) in both techniques of capture; however this site showed a predominance of Lu. longipalpis, therefore Pielou's and Shannon's indexes of this neighborhood occupied the third place among the sampled ecotopes, a tendency that has also been observed in other studies performed in the state54,22. On the other hand, the São Francisco neighborhood was the ecotope where the highest abundance and evenness indexes of species caught through light trap was registered. Despite the low frequency in capture and the presence of only seven of the ten species collected in the city, it appears that species are in equilibrium in this site, without the predominance of one of them. Guanandy is located in the outskirts of the city, therefore its surroundings presented rural characteristics, including the presence of synanthropic animals near the residences according to the residents.

The second lowest Shannon's index was observed in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, situated downtown in the city. This result was similar to data reported by Oliveira et al.22 in Campo Grande. In general, central areas of cities have modified environments caused by human action; most terrain features constructions and vegetal biomass are reduced, which probably disfavors the presence of several species of sand flies. However, species able to adapt to these modified environments demonstrate an anthropophilic tendency and the possibility of transmitting pathogens22,58,71,72,73,74.

Regarding the sex ratio, irrespective of the type of capture, a predominance of males compared to females was noted. The male-to-female ratio of Lu. longipalpis was 8.07:1 using light traps and 5.1:1 through manual aspiration. Comparing both capture methods, a higher yield of females was observed in aspiration, as there was a decline of the male-to-female ratio. Ximenes et al.38 observed a ratio of 18.26 and 4.62 using light traps and manual aspiration, respectively.

Through the use of light traps, it was observed that, comparing male-to-female ratios of peridomicile and domicile areas, only the Guanandy neighborhood showed no significant differences among the ecotopes. The domicile presented a greater equilibrium between males and females, probably due to the presence of dogs living inside the houses, which may have contributed to the encounter of more females in this environment52,75,76,77. Other authors have previously reported differences among the peridomicile and domicile ratios, however a higher proportion of males in all the ecotypes was reported6,13.

The predominance of males is unanimous, even in studies performed in the state, like Bonito with a ratio of 5.754, Ponta Porã with 4.813 and 2.95 in Campo Grande19. This behavior may also have been influenced by the males characteristics related to hatching before females14,19,36,78.

Moreover, the observed predominance can be explained by the lekking behavior described for Lu. longipalpis79,80,81,82 in which males are attracted by kairomones released by the hosts, leading the males to release pheromones that attract females83,84,85, providing an environment where sand flies can copulate, and females can feed in animals. Because of the weight of the females after feeding, they could seek refuge in shelters with less luminosity to perform digestion, thus becoming less attracted to the traps80. It is possible that the presence of large amounts of males and the attraction of females close to a host is an adaptive process to increase reproductive success of the species38,79,81.

Regarding the peridomicile and domicile environments, a significant difference was noted between them. The peridomicile was the ecotope with greater quantity and diversity of species, except for the São Francisco neighborhood, where the total amount of insects collected was so low that it was impossible to infer on this behavior. Another neighborhood that showed a large quantity of insects in the domicile was São Cristovão. It is important to note the proximity of this site to the hen house, since the house wall bordered the enclosure of the hen.

Other studies that reported a higher yielding of Lu. longipalpis in the domicile suggested that this behavior may be possible related to unfavorable weather conditions, lack of hosts in the peridomicile, and in some cases the presence of domestic animals living inside the houses, which highlights their endophilic capacity and the possibility of increasing the parasite transmission in this environment39,86,87.

Therefore, the greater number of specimens captured in the peridomicile is probably related to the presence of animals. This behavior, as described in several other reports, shows the sand flies' preference for environments with the presence of domestic or farmed animals52,54,88,89,90,91,92,93,94. Actually, some authors emphasize the insects' preference for farmed animals with respect to animals in natural habitats95,96.

Regarding the Lu. longipalpis feeding habits, several studies reported the eclectic habit of this species45,48,75,76,97,98, however Morrison et al.99 suggested that it may act as an opportunist and feed on the closest animals to its breeding site. A higher attraction for birds, especially chickens, and dogs have also been demonstrated 19,52,75,76,98. Other domestic mammals such as cats, equines, goats, cattle and swine have also been evidenced as part of these insects diet52,75,76,95,98.

The pig pen was an environment where the amount of collected insects was very significant. This result is consistent with the studies of Galati et al.15 and Carvalho et al.100 who have also observed a greater attractiveness of sand flies in this ecotope. It can be noted that the presence of large amounts of organic matter, produced by feces and food scraps in precarious hygienic environments, in addition to the shading of the area by a remnant of riparian vegetation, were probably important to create and maintain the insects at this site. This can be justified by other studies that have already shown the presence of organic matter as a predisposal factor to the finding of these insects in environments with such characteristics91,93,94,100. Alexander et al.88 reported other factors that could influence the attractiveness by different host species that must be considered, such as the biomass difference, heat loss, CO2 production and the odor released by the animal, besides blood n utritional value.

According to Gomes51, this eclectic behavior is a precondition for the ability of a species to evolve to synanthropy. In domiciliation for example, the species tendency of using humans or domestic animals as food supply and artificial ecotopes as shelters is clear. This fact evidences the survivability of species after the destruction of their natural ecotopes.

Additional studies on feeding habits and breeding sites of sand flies are certainly needed for a better understanding of leishmaniasis transmission cycle in the municipality.

In the present study, no sand fly was detected naturally infected with Leishmania in a total of 418 females analyzed by PCR. This result corroborates those from Souza et al.92, who found no positivity among 318 samples. In several studies, the occurrence of natural infection caused by Leishmania among sand fly populations has been described as low. In Brazil, the infection estimated rates were 0.4% in Bahia and Maranhão101,102, 0.7% in Mato Grosso103, 0.9% in Minas Gerais100, 1.1% in Corumbá104 and 2% in Rio de Janeiro105.

Infection rates can be influenced by vectors' ecological factors such as intraspecific behaviors, diet and host population of each region. The selection of the molecular technique employed can also influence these rates, as it may lead to lower rates of natural infection32,105,106,107,108.

In the municipality of Aquidauana, the maintenance of leishmaniasis, especially VL is likely to be related to the high prevalence of canine infection, as only in the year 2013, 1,666 dogs were diagnosed and 883 were euthanized, among suspected and confirmed cases109.

In the present study, it was possible to observe the sand flies adaptation to the urban area of the municipality of Aquidauana, which was confirmed by the presence of several species both in the peridomicile and the domicile of all the ecotypes. The abundance of sand fly fauna in the region and the high frequency of Lu. longipalpis, a L. infantum vector, was noted, demonstrating the need to intensify the monitoring and to stablish more efficient control measures. It is noteworthy that the studied region is involved in several recreational activities, thus representing an even greater risk factor for the transmission of leishmaniasis.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We are grateful to the Controle de Vetores, to the residents of the municipality of Aquidauana; to Kezia Oliveira Kawasaki (PIBIC-Junior), the whole lab team of human parasitology and the Brazilian agency CAPES as well as the FUNDECT/SUCITEC/SEMAC Nº 09/2012 - BIOTA-MS for their financial support.

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Received: September 01, 2015; Accepted: July 25, 2016

Correspondence to: Alessandra Gutierrez de Oliveira, Programa de Pós-graduação em Doenças Infecciosas e Parasitárias, Faculdade de Medicina Dr Hélio Mandetta, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Cidade Universitária s/n, 79070-900 Campo Grande, MS, Brazil. E-mail: alessandra.oliveira@ufms.br

CONFLIT OF INTEREST The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

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