Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Article

Responses of tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) to natural and synthetic ox odours

S.J. Torra1 c1, D.R. Halla2 and J.L. Smitha2

a1 ODA Insect Pest Management Initiative, c/o Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Control Branch, Harare, Zimbabwe

a2 Natural Resources Institute, Chatham, UK


In Zimbabwe, studies were made of the levels of known tsetse attractants present in natural ox odour. Typically an ox (400 kg) produced phenol (0.1 mg/h), 3-methylphenol (0.09 mg/h), 4-methylphenol (0.7 mg/h), 3-ethylphenol (0.01 mg/h), 4-ethylphenol (0.02 mg/h), 3- and 4-n-propylphenol (0.02 mg/h), l-octen-3-ol (0.01 mg/h), carbon dioxide (140 l/h), acetone (5 mg/h) and butanone (0.3 mg/h). Of these, only phenol, 4- and 3-methylphenol and carbon dioxide were always detected in ox odour. Studies were made of the numbers of Glossina pallidipes Austen and G. morsitans morsitans Westwood attracted to natural ox odour and synthetic odour, the latter consisting of blends of identified attractants dispensed at the doses naturally present in ox odour. Natural ox odour caught twice (P < 0.05) as many G. pallidipes and 1.5 (P < 0.05) times as many G. m. morsitans as the synthetic blend suggesting the presence of an unidentified attractant in ox odour. Passing ox odour through filters indicated that all attractants can be trapped on a combination of charcoal and sodalime filters but the unidentified attractant(s) may pass through a sodalime filter, and break through a charcoal filter used for more than 6 h. Increasing the dose of ketones in the synthetic odour from 2 to 100 mg/h doubled the catches at the source. Increases in ketone levels in hosts, induced by starvation or possibly trypanosomiasis, may increase attraction of tsetse to such animals.

(Accepted August 23 1994)


c1 Dr S.J. Torr, NRI, Central Avenue. Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK.