University of Pretoria Hatfield, Gauteng, South Africa
Understanding the ecology of sand flies is proposed as a possible avenue to developing control measures. An important ecologic adaptation of sand flies is their selective use of habitats as resting or breeding sites. However, the basis for this preference is not fully understood. Here, we sought to understand the distribution of sand flies in three different habitats namely animal shed, house and termite mound, and analyzed the chemical cues associated them. The study was conducted in Rabai village in Baringo County, Kenya, endemic for visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis. By analyzing sand flies surveyed at different time points during the dry season, we found that sand fly abundance and diversity varied between the habitats and detected volatile organic compounds associated with these sites with notable commonality in some compounds previously known as attractants for sand flies across the habitats. The implication of the findings in relation to sand fly habitat structuring and potential for control will be discussed.