Evaluation of improved coloured targets to control riverine tsetse in East Africa: A Bayesian approach

Roger D. Santer*, Michael N. Okal, Johan Esterhuizen, Steve J. Torr

*Corresponding author for this work

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Riverine tsetse (Glossina spp.) transmit Trypanosoma brucei gambiense which causes Gambian Human African Trypanosomiasis. Tiny Targets were developed for cost-effective riverine tsetse control, and comprise panels of insecticide-treated blue polyester fabric and black net that attract and kill tsetse. Versus typical blue polyesters, two putatively more attractive fabrics have been developed: Vestergaard ZeroFly blue, and violet. Violet was most attractive to savannah tsetse using large targets, but neither fabric has been tested for riverine tsetse using Tiny Targets.

We measured numbers of G. f. fuscipes attracted to electrified Tiny Targets in Kenya and Uganda. We compared violets, Vestergaard blues, and a typical blue polyester, using three replicated Latin squares experiments. We then employed Bayesian statistical analyses to generate expected catches for future target deployments incorporating uncertainty in model parameters, and prior knowledge from previous experiments.

Expected catches for average future replicates of violet and Vestergaard blue targets were highly likely to exceed those for typical blue. Accounting for catch variability between replicates, it remained moderately probable (70–86% and 59–84%, respectively) that a given replicate of these targets would have a higher expected catch than typical blue on the same day at the same site. Meanwhile, expected catches for average violet replicates were, in general, moderately likely to exceed those for Vestergaard blue. However, the difference in medians was small, and accounting for catch variability, the probability that the expected catch for a violet replicate would exceed a Vestergaard blue equivalent was marginal (46–71%).

Violet and Vestergaard ZeroFly blue are expected to outperform typical blue polyester in the Tiny Target configuration. Violet is unlikely to greatly outperform Vestergaard blue deployed in this way, but because violet is highly attractive to both riverine and savannah tsetse using different target designs, it may provide the more suitable general-purpose fabric.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0009463
Number of pages22
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number6
Early online date21 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021


  • Research Article
  • Biology and life sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Physical sciences
  • Engineering and technology
  • Research and analysis methods


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