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J Vector Ecol. 2004 Jun;29(1):154-8.

Nectar and honeydew feeding of Phlebotomus papatasi in a focus of Leishmania major in Neot Hakikar oasis.

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  • 1Department of Parasitology, The Kuvin Center for Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, The Hebrew University- Hadassah Medical School, Box 12272, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.


Feeding of Phlebotomus papatasi Scopoli on nectar and honeydew was investigated in Neot Hakikar, an oasis in the southern Jordan Valley. Sand flies were caught with miniature light traps in cleared areas with large Tamarix nilotica Bunge bushes, in colonies of the sandrat Psammomys obesus Cretzschmar. Fly series were trapped and compared according to the condition of T. nilotica bushes: with flowers, soiled with honeydew excreted by cicadas, or without flowers. Near flowering bushes the catch was five times greater (7.9: 1.6 flies/trap) and the proportion of sugar-positive flies was also much greater (49.9:17.3%) than near bushes without flowers. The catch was three times greater (6.6:2.2 flies/trap) near cicada- infested than near uninfested bushes. Color markers within the gut, obtained from infested or uninfested bushes that had been sprayed with food dye, indicated feeding of 33.2% and 4.5% of these series, respectively. Sand flies were strongly attracted to flowers of T. nilotica. In similar trap series, those baited with flowering branches caught 231 flies, whereas with baits of honeydew- soiled branches, control regular branches or wet filter paper, the catch ranged between 11 to 15 flies. This study is the first evidence of nectar feeding by sand flies in the field and it indicates that nectar may be an important and an attractive source of sugar.

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