Where do these bugs come from? Phenotypic structure ofTriatoma infestans populations after control interventions in the Argentine Chaco

House re-invasion by native triatomines after insecticide-based control campaigns represents a major threat for Chagas disease vector control. We conducted a longitudinal intervention study in a rural section (Area III, 407 houses) of Pampa del Indio, northeastern Argentina, and used wing geometric morphometry to compare pre-spray and post-spray (re-infestant bugs) Triatoma infestanspopulations. The community-wide spraying with pyrethroids reduced the prevalence of house infestation by T. infestans from 31.9% to < 1% during a four-year follow-up, unlike our previous studies in the neighbouring Area I. Two groups of bug collection sites differing in wing shape variables before interventions (including 221 adults from 11 domiciles) were used as a reference for assigning 44 post-spray adults. Wing shape variables from post-spray, high-density bug colonies and pre-spray groups were significantly different, suggesting that re-infestant insects had an external origin. Insects from one house differed strongly in wing shape variables from all other specimens. A further comparison between insects from both areas supported the existence of independent re-infestation processes within the same district. These results point to local heterogeneities in house re-infestation dynamics and emphasise the need to expand the geographic coverage of vector surveillance and control operations to the affected region.

Triatoma infestans; re-infestation; geometric morphometry; Gran Chaco; vector control

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