The insect vector of Chagas disease, Rhodnius prolixus, has become a very popular model organism for exploring, among other things, the physiology of insects. Its ability to remain in a state of stasis until after engorging a blood meal has focussed most studies on those physiological and developmental processes triggered by the blood meal leaving the details of its sexual physiology vague. This chapter summarizes the relationship between the male and female by describing their respective reproductive systems and genitalia, and how they function during and after copulation. A number of novel processes are noted, such as the transfer of male secretions without the formation of a spermatophore, pump/valve mechanism in the male aedeagus, sensory and a chemical means by which copulation may be facilitated, and the possible mechanism by which adhesive protein is applied to an egg during ovipositioning. Combined with knowledge of its genome, further studies into the functional anatomy of reproduction in this insect have the potential to increase our understanding of sexual reproduction in Reduviidae bugs, and to suggest new ways to control their population growth and the spread of Chagas disease.
Part of the book: Biological Control of Pest and Vector Insects