Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Paper

Seasonal and diurnal variations in physiological age and trypanosome infection rate of females of Glossina pallidipes Aust., G. palpalis fuscipes Newst. and G. brevipalpis Newst

J. M. B. Harleya1

a1 East African Trypanosomiasis Research Organization, Tororo, Uganda

A series of 24-hr. catches of Glossina from bait-oxen was carried out during 16 months in 1962–63 at Lugala, Uganda, where G. pallidipes Aust., G. palpalis fuscipes Newst. and G. brevipalpis Newst. occur. Female flies were dissected to determine their physiological age and the presence or absence of trypanosomes. Five age-categories were distinguished, depending on whether a fly had ovulated 0, 1, 2, 3 or more (4 + ) times. Flies remained in each of the first four categories for about 11 days and the fifth therefore comprised those over 40–50 days old. Trypanosome infections were classified as brucei-type, vivax-iype or congolense-type (i.e., attributable to trypanosomes of the groups of Trypanosoma brucei, T. vivax and T. congolense) according to the sites in which they were found.

In all three species of Glossina, vivax-tjpe infections were commonest and alone showed seasonal fluctuations in incidence. Infections of the brucei-type were rare. The total infection rate (all types) in G. pallidipes and G. palpalis fuscipes was highest in or immediately after months of greatest rainfall and relatively lower in dry months; the highest infection rates in G. brevipalpis occurred a month later than those of the other two species. Over 80 per cent, of infections in all three were found in category 4+ flies, the percentage of which in the catches varied in much the same way as the total infection rate, suggesting not only that the flies live longest during wet periods but also that fluctuations of infection rate are largely due to changes in mean age. The regression of total infection rate on percentage of category 4 + flies was significant for G. palpalis fuscipes over 14 months, and for G. pallidipes over 12 months, but insignificant for G. brevipalpis.

The age-composition of catches of G. pallidipes and G. brevipalpis but not G. palpalis fuscipes varied during the day. In G. pallidipes, the percentage of older flies was higher in the middle of the day than in the early morning and late evening, and these contrasts were reflected in the infection rate, which was highest in samples taken in the middle of the day. In G. brevipalpis, the percentage of oldier flies and also the infection rate were lower during the night than during the day.

Estimates were made of the mean number of bites by infected females that would be received by one ox in one day. The number varied from month to month, with peaks shortly after periods of high rainfall, mainly as a result of changes in fly density and relatively little as a result of changes in infection rate. G. pallidipes, the most numerous species, was responsible for most of the potentially infective bites.

(Received September 27 1965)