Physical characteristics: Adult tsetse flies are yellowish to brown, with forward-projecting, piercing mouthparts. They measure up to 0.47 inches (12 millimeters) in length. There is a hatchet-shaped cell in the center of each wing.
Geographic range: They live in western Africa.
Habitat: Tsetse flies are found in patches of dense vegetation along banks of rivers and lakes in hot, dry habitats. They also live in dense, wet, heavily forested equatorial rainforest.
Diet: Adults feed on the blood of birds, mammals, and reptiles.
The tsetse fly is a major carrier of sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in animals. (Illustration by Jonathan Higgins. Reproduced by permission.)
Behavior and reproduction: Host animals are located primarily by sight, rather than smell. The female keeps a single egg for nine to twelve days inside her body, where it molts three times. The larva is then deposited in the soil and pupates. The pupal stage lasts four to five weeks. The adult emerges from the pupa with the aid of a special, inflatable sac on the head. Females are ready to mate two or three days after emerging, but males may take up to several days more. Adults are long-lived, with males living six weeks and females up to fourteen.
Tsetse flies and people: This species transmits a protozoan, or one-celled animal, that causes nagana in horses and cattle, and sleeping sickness in humans.
Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ■
Spider bat fly (Basilia falcozi)
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