Chagas disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi is a burden to millions of people in South and Central America. A sylvatic life cycle of the parasite exists in the Southern United States, but recent studies indicate an active peri-domestic life cycle of T. cruzi in Texas. The United States–Mexico border region in Texas displays areas of high poverty and sub-standard housing conditions which are important risk factors for a potential spill-over transmission to a domestic life cycle including humans. The objectives of the study were to examine short- and long-term temporal variation in vector activity and to evaluate the effect of different combinations of attractants on the capture of potential triatomine vectors. We collected local triatomine vectors (all of them identified as Triatoma gerstaeckeri) from a natural habitat in South Texas during the course of a year. The exact time of collection was recorded to examine the timing of flight activity of the triatomine vector. We also conducted a comparative study of the efficiency of 2 commonly used attractants (light and CO2) and the combination of those on the capture rate of Tr. gerstaeckeri. Our study indicates a short season of dispersal of Tr. gerstaeckeri (April/May) and it suggests a unimodal distribution of activity peaking between 2 and 3 hr after sunset. Ultra-violet light served as the main attractant of Tr. gerstaeckeri while CO2 from dry ice did not significantly contribute to the collection of vectors. The pronounced timing of activity in Tr. gerstaeckeri reported in this study contributes to our understanding of the epidemiology of T. cruzi in wildlife and its potential as a Chagas disease vector to humans in the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas.
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Vol. 103 • No. 5