A Receptor-Based Explanation for Tsetse Fly Catch Distribution between Coloured Cloth Panels and Flanking Nets

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Abstract

Tsetse flies transmit trypanosomes that cause nagana in cattle, and sleeping sickness in humans. Therefore, optimising visual baits to control tsetse is an important priority. Tsetse are intercepted at visual baits due to their initial attraction to the bait, and their subsequent contact with it due to landing or accidental collision. Attraction is proposed to be driven in part by a chromatic mechanism to which a UV-blue photoreceptor contributes positively, and a UV and a green photoreceptor contribute negatively. Landing responses are elicited by stimuli with low luminance, but many studies also find apparently strong landing responses when stimuli have high UV reflectivity, which would imply that UV wavelengths contribute negatively to attraction at a distance, but positively to landing responses at close range. The strength of landing responses is often judged using the number of tsetse sampled at a cloth panel expressed as a proportion of the combined catch of the cloth panel and a flanking net that samples circling flies. I modelled these data from two previously published field studies, using calculated fly photoreceptor excitations as predictors. I found that the proportion of tsetse caught on the cloth panel increased with an index representing the chromatic mechanism driving attraction, as would be expected if the same mechanism underlay both long- and close-range attraction. However, the proportion of tsetse caught on the cloth panel also increased with excitation of the UV-sensitive R7p photoreceptor, in an apparently separate but interacting behavioural mechanism. This R7p-driven effect resembles the fly open-space response which is believed to underlie their dispersal towards areas of open sky. As such, the proportion of tsetse that contact a cloth panel likely reflects a combination of deliberate landings by potentially host-seeking tsetse, and accidental collisions by those seeking to disperse, with a separate visual mechanism underlying each behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0004121
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Volume9
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2015

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