Flight dispersal of Triatoma infestans Klug is probably the most important mechanism for house reinfestation at a village scale after residual spraying with insecticides. The aim of the current study was to estimate the flight initiation probability of field-collected T. infestans and to assess how this probability was affected by sex, adult age, partial bloodmeal, and the presence of a host inaccessible for feeding. Four experimental series, each consisting of three to six consecutive nights and repeated measurements of flight initiation on each individually marked bug, were carried out in experimental huts inside closed cages under natural climatic conditions. We demonstrate that flight initiation probability of T. infestans is much higher than previously reported, responds to temperature in a sigmoid manner, and is higher in females than males, and that the frequency distribution of the number of flights per individual is highly aggregated in female and male bugs. The age of adults had strong effects on flight initiation, whereas the presence of an inaccessible host and a partial bloodmeal exerted no significant effects in models controlling for the effects of bug weight-to-length ratio. The high flight potential found is consistent with the rapid changes in reinfestation patterns observed in the field. The present estimates of flight probabilities and the identification of factors modifying them provide essential knowledge for modeling reinfestation patterns and for improving control strategies of T. infestans.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2