Biology of phlebotomine sand flies as vectors of disease agents

Annu Rev Entomol. 2013;58:227-50. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-120811-153557.


Phlebotomines are the sole or principal vectors of Leishmania, Bartonella bacilliformis, and some arboviruses. The coevolution of sand flies with Leishmania species of mammals and lizards is considered in relation to the landscape epidemiology of leishmaniasis, a neglected tropical disease. Evolutionary hypotheses are unresolved, so a practical phlebotomine classification is proposed to aid biomedical information retrieval. The vectors of Leishmania are tabulated and new criteria for their incrimination are given. Research on fly-parasite-host interactions, fly saliva, and behavioral ecology is reviewed in relation to parasite manipulation of blood feeding, vaccine targets, and pheromones for lures. Much basic research is based on few transmission cycles, so generalizations should be made with caution. Integrated research and control programs have begun, but improved control of leishmaniasis and nuisance-biting requires greater emphasis on population genetics and transmission modeling. Most leishmaniasis transmission is zoonotic, affecting the poor and tourists in rural and natural areas, and therefore control should be compatible with environmental conservation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Insect Control*
  • Insect Vectors* / classification
  • Insect Vectors* / parasitology
  • Insect Vectors* / physiology
  • Insect Vectors* / virology
  • Leishmania / physiology
  • Leishmaniasis* / parasitology
  • Leishmaniasis* / prevention & control
  • Leishmaniasis* / transmission
  • Leishmaniasis* / veterinary
  • Lizards / parasitology
  • Mammals / parasitology
  • Psychodidae* / classification
  • Psychodidae* / parasitology
  • Psychodidae* / physiology
  • Psychodidae* / virology