The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, located in Maranhão, Brazil, is a region of exceptional beauty and a popular tourist destination. The adjoining area has suffered from the impact of human activity and, consequently, has experienced outbreaks of leishmaniasis. This study aimed to evaluate the composition, abundance, species richness and seasonal distribution of sand flies in the region and to determine the constancy of the insect population.
The survey was conducted at three sites located in the municipalities of Barreirinhas and Santo Amaro between September 2012 and August 2013. Sampling was performed monthly using automatic light traps installed 1.5 m above the soil adjacent to 13 randomly selected rural dwellings. At each site, one trap was placed in the peridomicile near to animal enclosures and another (extradomicile) at 500 m from the peridomicile.
A total of 4,474 individual sand flies were collected over the year with the highest abundance recorded during the rainy season (December to June). Nine species were collected: L. whitmani, L. longipalpis, L. lenti, L. sordellii, L. evandroi, L. flaviscutellata, L. wellcomei, L. termitophila and L. intermedia. Although peridomiciliary and extradomiciliary environments presented similar species richness, the Shannon diversity index was significantly lower in the former (H' = 2.4) compared with the latter (H' = 4.98). Lutzomyia whitmani and L. longipalpis were the most abundant species and were classified as constant (constancy index, CI = 100 %) along with L. lenti (CI = 58.3), L. evandroi (CI = 58.3) and L. sordellii (CI = 66.7). The remaining four species presented CI values between 25 and 50 % and were considered accessory.
The present results confirm the present of L. whitmani and L. longipalpis in the peridomicile of houses in Lençóis National Park. The abundance of these species could explain, respectively, the endemicity of cutaneous leishmaniasis and sporadic cases of visceral leishmaniasis in the study area. However, in the case of cutaneous leishmaniasis, the presence of other sand fly vectors (in addition to L. whitmani) cannot be neglected. Finally, this study emphasizes the need for a more effective and permanent supervision to control the expansion of these vectors and leishmaniasis outbreaks.