The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of the trace element rubidium (Rb) as a long-lasting systemic biomarker for bloodfeeding females of the sand fly Phlebotomus papatasi Scopoli Baits containing Rb chloride were found to be palatable to hamsters in this study. We were able to detect Rb using a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer in all sand flies that fed on Rb-treated hamsters for at least 14 d postbloodmeal. We also detected Rb in sand flies that took a bloodmeal from hamsters up to 10 d after the hamsters were withdrawn from a Rb-treated diet. Results of this study constitute proof of concept for the incorporation of Rb chloride into rodent baits for marking bloodfeeding sand flies, and suggest that Rb marking could be used as a technique for evaluating rodent-targeted sand fly control methods and in ecological studies on sand flies.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1