We conducted a lab-based comparative study on vector capacity features of two species of triatomines: Triatoma brasiliensis and T. melanica. Both are members of the T. brasiliensis species complex. The former is the most important Chagas disease vector in the northeastern region of Brazil. To date, no transmission via T. melanica has been recorded. Immature insects exhibited distinct intermoult periods without a direct relationship to a given species. Females of T. brasiliensis consumed an average of 1.9 times more meals (mean = 12.92 vs 6.63) and survived for a shorter period (mean =330.8 days) than T. melanica (mean = 365.2 days), probably due to the cost of reproduction (all significant at P<0.05). These data support the idea that T. brasiliensis is more adapted to lab conditions and is more able to infest domiciles than T. melanica. We also found significant distinctions in other features between these species, such as the elapsed time without eating before molting, which was higher for the second, third, and fifth nymph stages of T. melanica. Regarding features analyzed related to vector capacity, insects of all life stages of both species were considered competent to transmit Trypanosoma cruzi because they needed many feedings (mean =1.5–3.82) to moult and because a high proportion (>39%) of insects defecated rapidly (<30 s) after feeding. Overall, results highlight the need to extend vector surveillance to T. melanica.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1