Comparison of In Vivo and In Vitro Methods for Blood Feeding of Phlebotomus papatasi (Diptera: Psychodidae) in the Laboratory.
Phlebotomus papatasi Scopoli is a medically important insect that has been successfully colonized in the laboratory, and blood feeding is critical for colony propagation. There has been much interest in developing established protocols for in vitro blood-feeding systems. The objective of this study was to determine if a Parafilm membrane and a hog’s gut membrane could be successfully used with in vitro feeding systems. We evaluated percentages of P. papatasi females that blood fed on different blood-feeding systems (a mouse, a Hemotek feeder, or a glass feeder) used with either a Parafilm or a hog’s gut membrane, with cohorts of 250 and 500 P. papatasi females, and with or without external exhalations. For all feeding system combinations, female P. papatasi blood fed in higher percentages when in cohorts of 500 individuals and in the presence of exhalations. Higher percentages of P. papatasi fed on a mouse, but this study also demonstrates that P. papatasi will readily feed with in vitro feeding systems using a Parafilm membrane or a hog’s gut membrane. This study suggests that female P. papatasi may use an invitation effect to blood feed and are attracted to blood sources via chemical olfaction cues, both of which have been characterized in other blood-feeding arthropods. Our study demonstrates that a Parafilm membrane or a hog’s gut membrane, in conjunction with the Hemotek or glass feeder system, is potentially a viable alternative to live rodents to blood feed a colony of P. papatasi.