Control of sand flies with attractive toxic sugar baits (ATSB) and potential impact on non-target organisms in Morocco

Whitney A. Qualls, Gunter C. Müller, Khalid Khallaayoune, Edita E. Revay, Elyes Zhioua, Vasiliy D. Kravchenko, Kristopher L. Arheart, Rui De Xue, Yosef Schlein, Axel Hausmann, Daniel L. Kline, John C. Beier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The persistence and geographical expansion of leishmaniasis is a major public health problem that requires the development of effective integrated vector management strategies for sand fly control. Moreover, these strategies must be economically and environmentally sustainable approaches that can be modified based on the current knowledge of sand fly vector behavior. The efficacy of using attractive toxic sugar baits (ATSB) for sand fly control and the potential impacts of ATSB on non-target organisms in Morocco was investigated. Methods: Sand fly field experiments were conducted in an agricultural area along the flood plain of the Ourika River. Six study sites (600 m x 600 m); three with "sugar rich" (with cactus hedges bearing countless ripe fruits) environments and three with "sugar poor" (green vegetation only suitable for plant tissue feeding) environments were selected to evaluate ATSB, containing the toxin, dinotefuran. ATSB applications were made either with bait stations or sprayed on non-flowering vegetation. Control sites were established in both sugar rich and sugar poor environments. Field studies evaluating feeding on vegetation treated with attractive (non-toxic) sugar baits (ASB) by non-target arthropods were conducted at both sites with red stained ASB applied to non-flowering vegetation, flowering vegetation, or on bait stations. Results: At both the sites, a single application of ATSB either applied to vegetation or bait stations significantly reduced densities of both female and male sand flies (Phlebotomus papatasi and P. sergenti) for the five-week trial period. Sand fly populations were reduced by 82.8% and 76.9% at sugar poor sites having ATSB applied to vegetation or presented as a bait station, respectively and by 78.7% and 83.2%, respectively at sugar rich sites. The potential impact of ATSB on non-targets, if applied on green non-flowering vegetation and bait stations, was low for all non-target groups as only 1% and 0.7% were stained with non-toxic bait respectively when monitored after 24 hours. Conclusions: The results of this field study demonstrate ATSB effectively controls both female and male sand flies regardless of competing sugar sources. Furthermore, ATSB applied to foliar vegetation and on bait stations has low non-target impact.

Original languageEnglish
Article number87
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Qualls et al.; licensee BioMed Central.


  • Environmental impact
  • Integrated vector management
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Vector control
  • Vector-borne diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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