Annual cycles of four flea species in the central Negev desert

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Abstract

Bionomics of fleas (Siphonaptera) parasitizing rodent hosts, mostly the gerbil Gerbillus dasyurus (Wagner) and the jird Meriones crassus Sundevall (Gerbillidae), were investigated in the central Negev desert of Israel. Populations were sampled weekly (by Sherman trapping of hosts) from August 2000 to July 2001. Among 1055 fleas of nine species captured, four species predominated (94%). Two species of Pulicidae, Xenopsylla dipodilli Smit and X. ramesis (Rothschild), reproduced perennially, whereas adults of Nosopsyllus iranus theodori Smit (Ceratophyllidae) and Stenoponia tripectinata medialis Jordan (Hystrichopsyllidae) occurred only in cool months (October-March). During their main activity season on the most infested host species (estimated from > 300 trap-nights/month), prevalence of these four flea species reached 40-70%, 20-30%, 100% and 50-70%, respectively, with infestation intensities of 2-2.7, 7-12, 2-3.5 and 2.5-7 fleas per infested rodent, respectively. Xenopsylla dipodilli oviposition peaked during autumn with parous rate > 80% by September-October. During December-April, the majority of X. dipodilli females were immature and/or nulliparous (defined as having mature ovaries but no follicular relics). In contrast, X. ramesis had two reproductive peaks, in mid-spring and autumn, evidenced by the influx of immature females in late spring and summer (30-40%) and in winter (20-30%) after maximal parous rates: 80-100% in March-April and 95-100% in October-November. Nosopsyllus iranus theodori and Stenoponia tripectinata medialis adults occurred only during cool months. At the beginning of activity, during October-November, the sex ratio of N. i. theodori was strongly biased to females (86%) that were immature and/or nulliparous. In winter, adult females were 52-65% parous and 10-32% immature. In March, as the adult population of N. i. theodori declined, 78% of females were parous and 12% immature. Seasonal activity of S. t. medialis (November-March) was shorter than for the other three species; females were predominantly nulliparous in November (80%), after which the proportion of parous females increased gradually to 84% in February. Two females of S. t. medialis collected in March were mature but nulliparous, suggesting that this species of flea might 'oversummer' (as pupae or teneral adults) in the cocooned stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-276
Number of pages11
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2002

Keywords

  • Annual cycle
  • Desert
  • Fleas
  • Gerbillus dasyurus
  • Gerbils
  • Israel
  • Meriones crassus
  • Negev
  • Nosopsyllus iranus theodori
  • Parapulex chephrenis
  • Reproductive cycle
  • Rodents
  • Seasonality
  • Siphonaptera
  • Stenoponia tripectinata medialis
  • X. ramesis
  • Xenopsylla dipodilli

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