Rhodnius prolixus

Rhodnius prolixus
Rhodnius prolixus.jpg
Scientific classification
R. prolixus
Binomial name
Rhodnius prolixus
Stål, 1859

Rhodnius prolixus is the principal triatomine vector of the Chagas parasite due to both its sylvatic and domestic populations in northern South America as well as to its exclusively domestic populations in Central America. It has a wide range of ecotopes, mainly savanna and foothills with an altitude of between 500 meters to 1,500 meters (1600 feet to 4,900 feet) above sea level and temperatures of 16 °C to 28 °C (61 °F to 82 °F). Sylvatic R. prolixus, as virtually all Rhodnius spp., is primarily associated with palm tree habitats and has a wide range of hosts including birds, rodents, marsupials, sloths, and reptiles.

The insect was used by Sir Vincent Wigglesworth for the detection of insect hormones. It has been implicated in the transmission of transposons between it and some of its vertebrate hosts, squirrel monkeys and opossums.[1]

Rhodnius prolixus is also known as the kissing bug because it tends to feed on the area around victims' mouths.[2]

Life cycle

The insect has five larval stages, with a moult between each. Each larval stage consumes a single large meal of blood, which triggers the moulting process, 12–15 days later. Wigglesworth demonstrated that the moult is started by a hormone secreted into the blood by a gland in the brain. Further it was demonstrated that the corpora allata secrete the juvenile hormone which prevents the premature development into an adult. The removal of the head during any larval stage causes early development into an adult, whereas the implantation of a juvenile head during the fifth larval stage results in a giant sixth stage larva.[3]

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