The distribution and abundance of triatomine insects, potential vectors of chagas disease, in a metropolitan area in Southern Arizona, United States

Carolina E. Reisenman, William Savary, Jillian Cowles, Teresa L. Gregory, John G. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Triatomine insects are a problem for human health in southwestern United States because of the moderate-to-severe allergic reactions their bites can cause and because they are potential vectors of Chagas Disease. Although both infected insects and wild mammalian reservoirs are plentiful in southern U.S., only seven cases of autochthonous transmission (plus 16 new presumed cases) of this disease have been reported to date. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate triatomine distribution and abundance in a metropolitan area in southern Arizona. Species, life-stage, locality, and date of collection were recorded for 1,878 triatomine insects collected during 4 yr inside and around houses. For both sexes of the most abundant species, Triatoma rubida (Uhler) (>95% of triatomines collected), dispersal followed a typical year-to-year pattern: dispersal started at the beginning of May and peaked during the first-second week of June. T. rubida was found widely distributed in suburban areas. Triatomines of the two less abundant species, T. recurva (Stal) and T. protracta (Uhler), were collected in all suburban areas throughout the 4-yr survey. All of these population characteristics were observed both at a large (i.e., all collection sites pooled) and a small (i.e., single collection sites) scale. In total, ≈5560% of the triatomines were collected inside houses, and 3035% of those were found in or near beds; thus, it is likely that they fed on humans. To our knowledge, this study is the first comprehensive multi-year analysis of triatomine distribution and abundance in the U.S., providing data that allow inferences about risks to human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1254-1261
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012



  • Chagas disease
  • U.S.A
  • allergy
  • dispersal
  • triatomine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases

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