Attraction of Ethiopian phlebotomine sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae) to light and sugar-yeast mixtures (CO§ssub§2§esub§)

Oscar D. Kirstein, Roy Faiman, Araya Gebreselassie, Asrat Hailu, Teshome Gebre-Michael, Alon Warburg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) known as Kala-Azar is a serious systemic disease caused by Leishmania donovani parasites (Trypanosomatidae: Kinetoplastida). The disease is prevalent in the Indian Sub-continent, East Africa and Brazil. In Africa, the worst affected regions are in Sudan, with an estimated 15,000-20,000 cases annually and Ethiopia with 5,000-7,000 cases a year. The main vector of VL in Sudan and Northern Ethiopia is Phlebotomus orientalis, a sand fly frequently found in association with Acacia spp and Balanite spp woodlands. Methods. To optimize sampling of sand flies for epidemiological studies in remote areas we tested different means of attraction. Miniature suction traps employing 2AA batteries (3 V) were deployed in the up-draft orientation and baited with chemical light-sticks (Red, Yellow and Green), or bakers' yeast in sugar solution (emitting CO§ssub§2§ esub§ and perhaps other attractants). These traps were compared with standard CDC incandescent light traps employing 6 V batteries. Trials were conducted during two consecutive years at different localities around Sheraro, a town in West Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Results: The sand fly species composition was similar but not identical in the different locations tested with different Sergentomyia spp. predominating. Phlebotomus spp. comprised less than 1% of the catches during the first year trials (November - December 2011) but increased markedly during the second year trials performed later in the dry season at the height of the sand fly season in February 2012. Although there did not appear to be a species bias towards different light wave-lengths, fermenting yeast in sugar solution attracted relatively more Phlebotomus spp. and Sergentomyia schwetzi. Conclusions: Although the standard 6 V CDC incandescent light traps captured more sand flies, light-weight (∼350 g) 3 V suction traps baited with chemical light-sticks were shown to be effective means of monitoring sand flies. Such traps operated without light and baited with yeast in sugar solution caught relatively more Phlebotomus spp.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number341
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program (grant number OPPGH5336).


  • Attractants for blood-sucking insects
  • Chemical light-stick
  • Ethiopia
  • Phlebotomus orientalis
  • Sergentomyia
  • Visceral leishmaniasis
  • Yeast fermentation


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