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Neotropical Entomology

Print version ISSN 1519-566XOn-line version ISSN 1678-8052

Neotrop. Entomol. vol.32 no.3 Londrina July/Sept. 2003 



Phlebotominae fauna (Diptera: Psychodidae) in the department of Amazonas, Colombia


Fauna flebotomínea (Diptera: Psychodidae) en el departamento del Amazonas, Colombia



Marta Wolff; Diana SierraI; Luz M. MurciaII; Iván D. Vélez B.I

Grupo Interdisciplinario de Estudios Moleculares, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
IPrograma de Estudio y Control de Enfermedades Tropicales - PECET, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
IISecretaria de Salud del Amazonas, Amazonas, Colombia




During the execution of an epidemiological study to assess the risk of Leishmania infection, an entomological evaluation and an inventory of phlebotomine fauna was made. The captures of phlebotomines were carried out with Shannon type traps and aspirators which collected the sand flies on human bait, in the Tikuna native community, on the banks of the Pupuña River an affluent of the Putumayo River among the department of Amazon. Five hundred and sixty phlebotomine specimens belonging to 20 species were captured in this place and the presence of Lutzomyia reducta Feliciangeli, Ramirez-Pérez & Ramirez recorded in Colombia for the first time and Lutzomyia carrerai carrerai (Barreto) and Lutzomyia nocticola Young were identified as new records for the zone. An updated inventory of phlebotomine species in Amazon department of Colombia is included.

Key words: Tikuna, sand fly, Lutzomyia, Pupuña River


Durante el desarrollo de un estudio epidemiológico para evaluar el riesgo de infección por Leishmania, se realizo una evaluación entomológica y el inventario de la fauna flebotomínea utilizando trampa Shannon y capturador bucal sobre cebo humano, en la comunidad indígena Tikuna residentes a orillas del río Pupuña, afluente del río Putumayo, departamento del Amazonas. En este mismo lugar se capturaron 560 ejemplares, de flebotomíneos pertenecientes a 20 especies, entre las cuales se identificaron por primera vez para Colombia a Lutzomyia reducta Feliciangeli, Ramirez-Pérez & Ramirez y Lutzomyia carrerai carrerai (Barreto) y Lutzomyia nocticola Young como nuevos registros para la zona. Se presenta un inventario actualizado de las especies de flebótomos del departamento del Amazonas Colombia.

PALABRAS-CLAVE: Tikuna, flebotomíneo, Lutzomyia, Río Pupuña



Lutzomyia are insects of the Psychodidae family belonging to the Phlebotominae sub-family (Kettle 1984) and are responsible for the transmission of leishmaniasis, bartonellosis and arboviral diseases. Nearly 460 species of Lutzomyia have been reported in the Americas and approximately 30 of them have been incriminated as vectors of leishmaniasis (Desjeux 1991,Young & Duncan 1994).

Ferro (2000) has reported 129 species of Lutzomyia in Colombia occurring from 0 to 2,400 masl, in a wide diversity of ecosystems from very humid tropical forest to dry tropical forest (Corredor et al. 1990). Only seven of the 129 species of Lutzomyia (Ferro 2000) recorded in the country have been incriminated as vectors: Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz & Neiva), Lutzomyia evansi (Nuñez-Tovar), Lutzomyia spinicrassa Morales, Osorno, de Osorno & Hoyos, Lutzomyia trapidoi (Fairchild & Hertig), Lutzomyia umbratilis Ward & Fraiha, Lutzomyia hartmanni (Fairchild & Hertig), Lutzomyia flaviscutellata (Mangabeira) and Lutzomyia gomezi (Nitzulescu) (Kreutzer et al. 1991, Ferro et al. 1995, Montoya-Lerma 1996).

Although Lutzomyia was formerly considered selvatic in behavior, domiciliary biting activity and epidemic outbreaks of leishmaniasis in rural areas have been observed since the 80's. A growing domiciliation of vectors and disease has been observed over the past few years (Bejarano et al. 2001 Agudelo et al. 2001) This phenomenon is causing a shift in the epidemiological risk of Leishmania infection, because the presence of sand flies inside dwellings means that not only people entering the forest the whole family including children, are at risk (Vélez et al. 1987, Montoya-Lerma et al. 1999).

This change in Lutzomyia behavior partly accounts for the increased incidence of leishmaniasis in Colombia, which increased from 18.3/100,000 inhabitants in 1985 to 60.9/100,000 inhabitants in 1995 (Ministerio de Salud 1996).

An inventory of phlebotomine fauna was completed during an epidemiological study undertaken to assess the risk of Leishmania infection among the Tikuna native community, located on the Pupuña River banks in the Putumayo Basin.

The present study was performed in the humid tropical forest zone (2° 59´ 27 S, 70° 3´ 49 W) of Colombian Amazonia, in the Third Maloka, (a kind of traditional community dwelling of some South American native tribes) of the Tikuna native community. The captures of phlebotomines were carried out with Shannon type traps that were left in the peridomicile and extradomicile and also the collection of sandflies on human bait with aspirators in the same places mentioned before, from 6 pm to 10 pm during three successive nights in the rainy season. The specimens collected were shipped in vials containing 70% alcohol, to the Laboratory of Entomology of the Program of Study and Control of Tropical Diseases (PECET - Programa de Estudio y Control de Enfermedades Tropicales) of the University of Antioquia where they were cleared in lactophenol and prepared and identified in accordance with Young and Duncan (1994).

A total of 560 individuals (131 male and 429 female sand flies), belonging to 20 species were captured (Table 1). Most of the species collected were from the subgenus Nyssomyia and Psychodopygus that are highly antropophilic species and that could be involucrated in the transmission like Lutzomyia davisi (Root) that represented 30% of the whole population collected and 18.7% Lutzomyia shawi Fraiha, Ward & Ready specie that has been found with Leishamania braziliensis -like parasites (Young 1994).

Among the species captured, L. reducta was recorded in Colombia for the first time, thus increasing the number of species reported in this country to 130. L. carrerai carrerai, and L. nocticola, are new findings in the department of Amazonas, Colombia.

Regarding the distribution of this species, L. reducta has been found in Venezuela and Brazil, (Young & Duncan 1994). These two new records for the department of Amazonas, Colombia increase the number of Lutzomyia species to 46 and that of Brumptomyia to 1 (Table 2) (CIPA GROUP 1999). The species of medical relevance are L. flaviscutellata, vector of Leishmania amazonensis in Brazil and French Guyana (Young & Lawyer 1987), Lutzomyia olmeca bicolor Fairchild & Theodor suspected vector of Leishmania aristidesi in Panamá (Christensen et al. 1972) and L. umbratilis, vector of Leishmania guyanensis in Brazil (Young & Lawyer 1987). Further Desjeux (1992) reports that Le. guyanensis has been isolated from L. umbratilis in the Amazonian region of Colombia. Lutzomyia shannoni has been found naturally infected with unidentified flagellates (Young & Duncan 1994) and is also a confirmed vector of vesicular stomatitis (Comer et al. 1990).



Furthermore, the presence of Lutzomyia geniculata Mangabeira was noted. This species belong to the subgenus Psychodopygus and has been reported by Feliciangeli et al. (1988) in the Venezuelan Amazon. Since few variations in the spermathecae has been found, Feliciangeli suggests that this species could belong to the geniculata complex, however male specimens that could be appropriately identified have not been captured until now (Feliciangeli et al. 1988).

Nyssomyia and Psychodophygus subgenus have a wide range of species distributed in Southamerica and some of them have been incriminated in the transmission of Leishmaniasis (Desjeux 1991).Our study show that L. davisi and L. shawi presented a high density in comparison with other species found and also they had an antropophilic behaviour; in the case of L. davisi 145 females were collected from 168 specimens and in L. shawi only 105 females were found. Even though they have not been incriminated as vectors, we think that high densities, wide range of distributions and antropophilic behaviour are some of the risk factors that could incriminate species in a transmission zone.



This study received the support of Servicio Seccional de Salud del Amazonas (Amazon Health Office) and University of Antioquia. We gratefully acknowledge Ligia Pérez, Pedro Toro, José Arroyo and Angel Barrios of Servicio Seccional de Salud del Amazonas for their logistic support.


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Received 10/09/03. Accepted 13/03/03.

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