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Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical

Print version ISSN 0037-8682On-line version ISSN 1678-9849

Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop. vol.49 no.5 Uberaba Sept./Oct. 2016 

Short Communications

Presence of Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae) in the Parque Estadual da Serra da Tiririca, State of Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Brazil

Andressa Alencastre Fuzari1 

Aline Ferreira dos Santos Delmondes1 

Vanessa De Araújo Barbosa1 

Francisco de Assis Marra1 

Reginaldo Peçanha Brazil1 

1Laboratório de Doenças Parasitárias, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



The sand fly, Lutzomyia longipalpis, is the main vector of Leishmania infantum in the Americas, primarily occurring in areas of apparent anthropomorphic modifications in several regions of Brazil.


Sand flies were captured using light traps.


Out of all captured species, Lu. longipalpis numbers had increased within the park.


We report the occurrence of Lu. longipalpis in an area of Atlantic Forest, possibly representing the first sylvatic population of Lu. longipalpis in an area absent of peridomestic captures, but with the risk of L. infantum transmission in the areas of Niterói and Maricá.

Keywords: Lutzomyia longipalpis; Sylvatic population; Rio de Janeiro

Sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) are natural hosts of various microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa; consequently, sand flies are etiological agents in diseases of medical and veterinary importance1. The species Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz & Neiva, 1912) is the main vector of Leishmania infantum, the etiological agent of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in the Americas2, even though this disease is also wide spread in Europe, Africa, and Asia. In Brazil, VL is a serious public health problem in rural, periurban, and, now, urban areas. In the past 20 years, the dispersion of the vector and its parasite across Brazil has become a major challenge for Brazilian Health Authorities3.

In the State of Rio de Janeiro, the occurrence of VL is important, despite being sporadic and restricted to a few municipalities. After the first autochthonous VL cases were reported in this state, the presence of Lu. longipalpis has been observed in other areas where the disease has not been previously reported4.

Lutzomyia longipalpis was first reported in the State Rio de Janeiro by Martins et al.5 in Macaé and later in Ilha Grande6 and Campo Grande7. More recently, Brazil et al.8 and Rodrigues et al.9 showed the presence of Lu. longipalpis in transition areas of Atlantic Forest in Saquarema and Niterói, respectively. The authors of both studies suggested that both populations are typically sylvatic, as there was no evidence of Lu. longipalpis in peridomestic captures during previous surveys10. Here, we aimed to identify and discuss the presence of this population of Lu. longipalpis in an urban preserved park in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro.

The Parque Estadual da Serra da Tiririca (PESET) was recently created to protect remnants of the Atlantic Forest, which were threatened by real estate speculation and other forms of human activities. The park is situated between the municipalities of Niterói and Maricá in the State of Rio de Janeiro (22° 48′, 23° 00′ S and 42° 57′ and 43° 02′ W), on the coastline of the Serra do Mar, and covers an area of 2,260ha.

Sand flies were captured from June 2013 to June 2014, with an average of 1 survey per month, by using modified HP (Hoover Pugeto) light traps11 These traps were adapted for use with plastic recipients (200mL capacity) instead of cloth cages. The plastic recipients contained 80% alcohol and were attached to the trap by using a 20cm-long thin silk stocking, which was secured using rubber bands at the base of the trap. Thus, insects were attracted to the light trap and were then sucked into the ventilation, falling directly into the alcohol. The altered traps better preserved the insects for transport and subsequent identification. Each trap was kept in place for at least 48h, with each trap being used for a total of 576h. The survey was conducted in 3 areas, with 14 traps being used in total. Area 1 (named Mirante) was located within the park, area 2 was located in a forested area of the park (Itacoatiara), and area 3 was located in a peridomestic environment. All 3 areas were located in the municipality of Niteroi. Most of the trails in area 2 are open to the public (tourists) visiting the park (Figure 1). However, we selected a part of the forest without open trails, to minimize any anthropogenic effects. Sand flies were identified following the taxonomic key provided by Galati10. Mounted specimens were deposited in the collection of our laboratory.

FIGURE 1.  View of capture sites in the area of the State Park Serra da Tiririca, State of Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Brazil. 

To date, the sand fly fauna of the park included 13 species, as shown by a previous study during 2010-201111. In this previous study, only 2 specimens of Lu. longipalpis were present. Thus, we speculated that this species had an isolated sylvatic population at this site, with subsequent studies being required to assess its presence in a preserved Atlantic Forest area.

During 12 months of captures' (June 2013 to June 2014, except December 2013), a total of 13 species were collected (Figure 2). However, only 10 individuals (4 females 6 males) of Lu. longipalpis were identified in area 2 (preserved area) of the park. While this species occurred in low numbers, the year-round presence of Lu. longipalpis confirms that it inhabits the forested environment. Lu. longipalpis has also been observed in other sylvatic environments4) (12; however, it tends to dominate other sand fly species in modified or urbanized areas13) (14. Furthermore, climatic factors, such rain, humidity, and temperature, appear to directly influence the seasonality of Lu. longipalpis in urbanized areas14) (15; yet, no such positive correlation was observed in our study. In conclusion, we speculate that this small population might contribute to the maintenance and dispersion of this species to human-modified areas.

FIGURE 2 Sand fly species found between June 2013 and June 2014. Ev.: Evandromyia; Mi.: Micropygomyia; Mg.: Migonemyia; Br.: Brumptomyia; Pa.: Psatyromyia; Lu.: Lutzomyia; Pi.: Pintomyia; Ny.: Nyssomyia.  


We thank the Instituto Estadual do Ambiente (INEA) who facilitated the development and implementation of this study.


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Instituto Oswaldo Cruz/Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (IOC/FIOCRUZ), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal do Nível Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq)

Received: April 04, 2016; Accepted: July 08, 2016

Corresponding author: Dr. Reginaldo Peçanha Brazil. e-mail:;

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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