Rhodnius prolixus
Rhodnius prolixus is the second most important triatomine
The members of Triatominae , a subfamily of Reduviidae, are also known as conenose bugs, kissing bugs, assassin bugs or triatomines. Most of the 130 or more species of this subfamily are haematophagous, i.e. feed on vertebrate blood; a very few species feed on other invertebrates...

 vector of the Chagas parasite due to its efficient adaptation to the human domicile in northern South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, where sylvatic
Sylvatic is a scientific term referring to diseases or pathogens affecting only wild animals. In the context of animal research, its opposite is domestic, which refers to pets, farm animals or other animals which do not dwell in the wild.*Examples: sylvatic rabies; sylvatic and domestic bacterial...

 populations also exist, and in Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 where it is exclusively domestic. It has a wide range of ecotopes, mainly savanna and foothills (500 to 1500 m above sea level) at different ranges of humidity between 16 and 28°C. Sylvatic R. prolixus, as virtually all Rhodnius
Rhodnius is a genus of bugs in the subfamily Triatominae, important vectors of Chagas disease. They were important models for Sir Vincent Wigglesworth's studies of insect physiology, specifically growth and development.-Species:...

spp., is primarily associated with palm tree habitats, and has a wide range of hosts, including bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

s, marsupial
Marsupials are an infraclass of mammals, characterized by giving birth to relatively undeveloped young. Close to 70% of the 334 extant species occur in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, with the remaining 100 found in the Americas, primarily in South America, but with thirteen in Central...

s, sloth
Sloths are the six species of medium-sized mammals belonging to the families Megalonychidae and Bradypodidae , part of the order Pilosa and therefore related to armadillos and anteaters, which sport a similar set of specialized claws.They are arboreal residents of the jungles of Central and South...

s and reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...


The insect was used by Sir Vincent Wigglesworth
Vincent Wigglesworth
Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth FRS was a British entomologist who made significant contributions to the field of insect physiology.In particular, he studied metamorphosis...

 for the detection of insect hormones. It has been implicated in the transmission of transposon
Transposable elements are sequences of DNA that can move or transpose themselves to new positions within the genome of a single cell. The mechanism of transposition can be either "copy and paste" or "cut and paste". Transposition can create phenotypically significant mutations and alter the cell's...

s between it and some of its vertebrate hosts, squirrel monkey
Squirrel monkey
The squirrel monkeys are the New World monkeys of the genus Saimiri. They are the only genus in the subfamily Saimirinae.Squirrel monkeys live in the tropical forests of Central and South America in the canopy layer. Most species have parapatric or allopatric ranges in the Amazon, while S...

s and oppossums.

Rhodnius prolixus is also known as the kissing bug because it feeds on people's

As disease vector

Chagas disease is caused by the parasitic protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi
Trypanosoma cruzi
Trypanosoma cruzi is a species of parasitic euglenoid trypanosomes. This species causes the trypanosomiasis diseases in humans and animals in America...

Infection with Chagas disease occurs after Rhodnius releases protozoans in its
feces immediately following a blood meal. The parasite enters the victim through
the bite wound after scratching the bite. Infection may also occur via blood
transfusion and ingestion of food contaminated with kissing bug feces.

See also

  • Vector epidemiology
  • Female sperm storage
    Female sperm storage
    Female sperm storage is a biological process in which sperm cells transferred to a female during mating are temporarily retained within a specific part of the reproductive tract before the oocyte, or egg, is fertilized...

  • Inherited sterility in insects
    Inherited sterility in insects
    Inherited sterility in insects is induced by substerilizing doses of ionizing radiation. When partially sterile males mate with wild females, the radiation-induced deleterious effects are inherited by the F1 generation. As a result, egg hatch is reduced and the resulting offspring are both highly...

  • Nitrophorins
    Nitrophorins are hemoproteins found in saliva of blood-feeding insects. Saliva of the blood-sucking bug Rhodnius prolixus contains at least seven homologous nitrophorins, designated NP1 to NP7 in order of their relative abundance in the glands. As isolated, nitrophorins contain nitric oxide ...

  • Hematophagy
    Hematophagy is the practice of certain animals of feeding on blood...

  • Hemozoin
    Hemozoin is a disposal product formed from the digestion of blood by some blood-feeding parasites. These hematophagous organisms such as Malaria parasites , Rhodnius and Schistosoma digest hemoglobin and release high quantities of free heme, which is the non-protein component of hemoglobin...

  • Proctolin
    Proctolin is a neuropeptide present in insects and crustaceans. It was first found in Periplaneta americana, a species of cockroach in 1975. Proctolin was extracted from 125,000 cockroaches and the Edman degradation was carried out on the sample to determine the amino acid sequence, which is...

Further reading

William C Marquardt et al (2004), Chapter 5: Kissing Bugs and Bedbugs the Heteroptera, Biology of Disease Vectors (2nd edition), Academic Press, ISBN 978-0-12-473276-6

External links

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