Sandfly Distribution and Abundance in a Tropical Rain-Forest


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1. The distribution patterns of sandflies (Diptera: Psychodidae) upon tree buttresses were studied in tropical rain forest at Finca la Selva in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica.

2. Four species of sandfly, Lutzomyia shannoni Dyar, L. trapidoi F. & H., L. ylephiletor F. & H. and L. vespertilionis F. & H. comprising 97% of those caught, used tree buttresses as diurnal resting sites. Their distribution on the buttresses was aggregated.

3. During the dry season tree species had no significant effect upon the distribution of the sandflies. However, during the wet season the distributions of two of the species, L. trapidoi and L. ylephiletor, were significantly affected by the species of tree; it is suggested that some species of tree may provide greater protection from rainfall than others.

4. L. vespertilionis was restricted to a single buttress on each positive tree. Distribution of this species is evidently determined by the distribution of its host animal, the bat (Emballonuridae). Female flies feed upon the bat's blood and male flies may be attracted to the bat as it provides a source of female sandflies. It is suggested, therefore, that tree buttresses serve as sandfly swarming sites.

5. Within a large buttress the sandflies are not randomly distributed but are aggregated in particular areas. Within these aggregations, the sandflies are vertically zoned upon the buttress with a shift in species composition with height. Two hypothesis were suggested to account for this distribution pattern: a response to an environmental gradient or an interaction between the four species of fly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1991




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