National Collection of Insects of Veterinary Importance

Project Manager: Karien Labuschagne

This project deals with the diagnostics, biosystematics and control of insects of veterinary importance, as well as technology transfer to commercial and subsistence farmers, students and the general public. The reference collection of insects of veterinary importance housed at the ARC-OVR consists of 1) Culicoides biting midges 2) Siphonaptera and Phthiraptera 3) Simulium and 4) other Diptera. The maintenance and expansion of these collections, databases and identification keys as well as the development of new research areas form an integral part of this project. This project includes the maintenance of laboratory colonies of two tsetse species occurring in South Africa. 


The number of southern African species in the collection is 132 and that of the rest of the world 78 (210 species in total). The collection consists of slide mounted (>14 500) and alcohol persevered samples. The samples are preserved in 70% alcohol (>16 000 collections). Alcohol collections may consist of one or thousands of Culicoides. Several type specimens, described at the ARC-OVR, are housed in the collection.


In 2002, laboratory colonies of the two tsetse species, Glossina brevipalpis and Glossina austeni, occurring in South Africa were established at the Agricultural Research Council-Onderstepoort Veterinary Research (ARC-OVR) in Pretoria, South Africa. These colonies were established using seed material from the Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (TTRI) (now named Vector & Vector-Borne Diseases Research Institute) Tanga, Tanzania and the Entomology Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria (now called the FAO/IAEA Insect Pest Control Laboratory (IPCL)) respectively. The original G. brevipalpis colony was initiated in mid-1982 from material collected in the Kibwezi Forest, Kenya as described above. The original G. austeni colony was established at the TTRI in September 1982 from pupae collected in the Jozani Forest, Unguja Island of Zanzibar. This colony was initially maintained on rabbits before an in vitro feeding system was introduced in 1988.

These colonies are maintained under standard rearing conditions of 23-24 °C, 75-80% RH and subdued/indirect lighting with a 12h light/12h dark photoperiod as prescribed by the FAO/IAEA standard operating procedures. Since the establishment of these colonies at the ARC-OVR, they have been maintained on defibrinated bovine blood, collected from slaughtered cows at an abattoir, using an artificial in vitro membrane feeding system.

Siphonaptera & Phthiraptera

The collection consist of slide mounted material (±3 000 microscope slides), representing nearly all species found on livestock and wild life and birds in southern Africa. Several type specimens are housed in the collection.


The Simulium collection consists of more than 800 collections made along South African rivers. At least 16 species are represented.

Other insect of veterinary importance

The Diptera collection includes Musca-, Stomoxys-, Glossina- and mosquito (Anopheles-, Aedes-, Culex spp.). The collection is divided into dry pinned, slide mounted and alcohol specimens.

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