Glossina morsitans

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Glossina morsitans (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Glossina morsitans Westwood, 1851

The tsetse fly is a common blood-sucking pest in drier parts of Africa, like eastern and Sahel countries. It is able to transmit several trypanosome diseases like nagana (caused by Trypanosoma brucei brucei, Trypanosoma vivax or Trypanosoma congolense) to domestic animals and sleeping sickness (Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense) to humans.

Preferred hosts are Suidae (mainly warthogs) and Bovidae (such as cattle). It also attacks humans. The average infection rate of G. morsitans with Trypanosoma parasites is typically below 10%. G. morsitans is active during the day and often bites early in the morning and later in the afternoon.

Glossina morsitans (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Alan R. Walker
Source: Wikimedia Commons

A larva develops singly inside the female, taking up fluid excreted by "milk glands" inside the females "uterus". It goes through 3 larval stages and leaves the female a few hours before pupation. The female must have 3 blood meals to complete the development of the larva. It deposits the mature larva on a suitable substrate which then burrows into the soil for pupation. The larval development inside the female lasts about 1 week and the duration of the pupal stage about 1 month.

The flies are around 10 mm long, dark greyish brown in colour. Three subspecies have been described:

  • Glossina morsitans centralis - in central and southern Africa
  • Glossina morsitans morsitans - in eastern Africa from Tanzania to Mozambique
  • Glossina morsitans submorsitans - in a belt from Gambia and Senegal to eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Uganda)