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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - Phlebotomine sand flies (Phlebotominae)


Within the subfamily Phlebotominae of the family Psychodidae it is estimated that there are approaching 1000 species and subspecies of sand flies, in five or six genera (depending on whether Psychodopygus is considered a subgenus or genus). Three genera – Phlebotomus, Lutzomyia and Sergentomyia – suck blood from vertebrates, the former two being the more important because they contain disease vectors.

The genus Phlebotomus occurs only in the Old World, from southern parts of northern temperate areas, mainly the Mediterranean region, to central Asia, and in tropical areas, but there are not many species in sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia and none in the Pacific area. Most Phlebotomus species inhabit semiarid and savanna areas in preference to forests. Lutzomyia species are found only in the New World, and, by contrast, occur mainly in forested areas of Central and South America.

Sergentomyia species are also confined to the Old World, being found mainly in the Indian subregion, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Although a few species bite people they are not vectors.

The medically most important species include Phlebotomus papatasi, P. sergenti, P. argentipes, P. ariasi, P. perniciosus and species in the Lutzomyia longipalpis and L. flaviscutellata species complexes. In both the Old and New Worlds sand flies are vectors of leishmaniasis and viruses responsible for sand fly fever, and in theAndes the bacterium Bartonella bacilliformis, causing bartonellosis (Carrión’s disease).

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Further reading
Alexander, B. Maroli, M. 2003 Control of phlebotomine sandflies Medical and Veterinary Entomology 17 1
Ashford, R W. 2001 Leishmaniasis Service, M. W. The Encyclopedia of Arthropod-Transmitted Infections of Man and Domesticated Animals Wallingford CABI 269
Faiman, F. Cuño, R. Warburg, A. 2009 Control of phlebotomine sand flies with vertical fine mesh nets Journal of Medical Entomology 46 820
Guerin, P. J. Olliaro, P. Sundar, S. 2002 Visceral leishmaniasis: current status of control, diagnosis and treatment, and a proposed research and development agenda Lancet Infectious Diseases 2 494
Hide, G. Mottram, J. C. Coombs, G. H. Holmes, P. H. 1996 Trypanosomiasis and Leishmaniasis: Biology and Control Wallingford CAB International
Joshi, A. Narain, J. P. Prasittisuk, C. 2008 Can visceral leishmaniasis be eliminated from Asia Journal of Vector Borne Diseases 45 105
Journal of Vector Ecology 2011 Sand fly research and control Journal of Vector Ecology 36 1
Killick-Kendrick, R. 1999 The biology of phlebotomine sand flies Clinics in Dermatology 17 279
Lainson, R. 1983 The American leishmaniases: some observations on their ecology and epidemiology Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 77 569
Lainson, R. 1989 Demographic changes and their influence on the epidemiology of the American leishmaniases Service, M. W. Demography and Vector-Borne Diseases Boca Raton, FL CRC Press 85
Lane, R. P. 1991 The contribution of sand-fly control to leishmaniasis control Annales de la Société Belge de Médicine Tropicale 71 65
Mondal, D. Prakash Singh, S. Kumar, N. 2009 Visceral leishmaniasis elimination programme in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal: reshaping the case finding/case management strategy PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 3
Niang, A. A. Geoffroy, B. Angel, G.
Peters, W. Killick-Kendrick, R. 1987 The Leishmaniases in Biology and Medicine. Volume 1: Biology and Epidemiology. Volume 2: Clinical Aspects and Control London Academic Press
Reif, K. E. Macaluso, K. R. 2010 Ecology of : a review Journal of Medical Entomology 47 723
Tayeh, A. Jalouk, L. Al-Khiami, A. M. 1997
Ward, R. D. 1990 Some aspects of the biology of phlebotomine sand-fly vectors Advances in Disease Vector Research 6 91
World Health Organization 2011