Many arthropod species have adopted vertebrate blood as their main food source. Blood is rich in nutrients and, except for the presence of parasites, sterile. However, this food source is not freely available, nor is obtaining it devoid of risk. It circulates inside vessels hidden underneath the skin of mobile hosts that are able to defend themselves and even predate the insects that try to feed on them. Thus, the haematophagous lifestyle is associated with major morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations that have accumulated throughout the evolutionary history of the various lineages of blood-sucking arthropods. These adaptations have significant consequences for the evolution of parasites as well as for the epidemiology of vector-transmitted diseases. In this review article, we analyse various aspects of the behaviour of triatomine bugs to illustrate how each behavioural trait represents a particular adaptation to their close association with their hosts, which may easily turn into predators. Our aim is to offer to the reader an up-to-date integrative perspective on the behaviour of Chagas disease vectors and to propose new research avenues to encourage both young and experienced colleagues to explore this aspect of triatomine biology.
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