Collaborative Resources for
Learning Developmental Biology
Collaborative Resources for Learning Developmental Biology
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Life cycle of Rhodnius prolixus, the major vector of Chagas Disease
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Vitória Santos

Additional Author(s): Rodrigo Nunes da Fonseca

Published on SDB CoRe: Sep 12 2016

Organisms: Invertebrates
Ectoderm-derived: Epidermis
Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Developmental Modifications
Metamorphosis: Insect
Organism: Rhodnius
Stage of Development: Larva/Juvenile

Object Description

Rhodnius prolixus is a blood-sucking insect that is the major vector of the parasite that causes Chagas Disease. R. prolixus is a hemimetabolous insect meaning it develops from egg to larva to adult, with no pupal stage. The immature form of the insect, called a nymph (larva), has the same basic body plan as the adult. During early embryonic development, the R. prolixus egg displays a light orange colour which becomes progressively red due to pigment deposition (see Berni et al., 2014 for embryonic staging system). Embryonic development lasts 10 days. After nymphal hatch (early 1st stage), chitin deposition at the exoskeleton is not complete so the nymph is fragile and red.  After a few hours (late 1st stage), the exoskeleton formation is complete and the nymph starts to move and search for blood sources. After blood feeding, the R. prolixus nymph performs ecdysis and moults to the next nymphal stage. This cycle of blood feeding, digestion, growth and moult occurs five times and leads to an extreme increase in body size. At the third nymphal stage, the wing progenitors become visible and start to grow until they completely develop at last ecdysis.  A full-length adult is 15 mm.


Berni, M., Fontenele, M.R., Tobias-Santos, V., Caceres-Rodrigues, A., Mury, F.B., Vionette-do-Amaral, R., Masuda, H., Sorgine, M., da Fonseca, R.N., Araujo, H. Toll signals regulate dorsal–ventral patterning and anterior–posterior placement of the embryo in the hemipteran Rhodnius prolixus. EvoDevo, 2014, 5:38.

Buxton, P. A. The Biology of a Blood-Sucking Bug, Rhodnius prolixus. Trans. R. Entomol., 1930, 78: 227-256.

Mellanby, H. Memoirs: The Early Embryonic Development of Rhodnius Prolixus (Hemiptera, Heteroptera). J. Cell Sci, 1935, s2-78:71-90.

Mellanby, H. Memoirs: The Later Embryology of Rhodnius Prolixus. J. Cell Sci, 1936, s2-79: 1-42.

Uribe, C. On the Biology and Life History of Rhodnius Prolixus Stahl. ‎J. Parasitol, 1926, 13: 129–36.

Wigglesworth, V.B. The function of the Corpus Allatum in the Growth and Reproduction of Rhodnius Prolixus (Hemiptera), J. Cell Sci, 1936, s2-79:91-121.

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