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Outbreaks of blackflies and related problems in Serbia: past and present situation

Due to the repeated outbreaks of blackflies, consequent economical losses and health problems, Serbia was considered as the most threatened European country in the past. During the last century (up to `60s), Simulium colombaschense caused enormous losses of livestock. Significant losses in poultry production caused by S. maculatum were also reported in 1958, while S. erythrocephalum caused severe dermatological problems in humans in 1965 and 1970.

In the last fifteen years, repeated outbreaks of blackflies and reemerging of bite related problems in humans were recorded in some parts of Serbia.

The research objective was to update the knowledge of blackfly pest species distribution in Serbia, with a special attention to endangered regions in the present and the past. Samplings were conducted in the period 2003-2012. Immature stages were collected from submerged substrates: in the Danube river and its tributaries, the Nera river and the Nišava river. Adults were sampled close to the breeding sites by application of CO2 baited traps or by light traps.

In the lowlands 11 blackfly species were recorded. Two mammophilic species have been dominant: S. erythrocephalum in the Danube and S. ornatum (complex) in confluent streams. In 2010, S. erythrocephalum was recorded for the first time in the hilly area in southeastern Serbia. Periods of high adult population density of those two species coincided with the bite cases reports.

In the Iron Gate region, 21 mainly mammophilic species were recorded in the Danube confluents exclusively. S. colombaschense, the main pest species in the past, was detected only in the Nera river, about 30 km upstream from the entrance of the Iron Gate.

Present state of blackfly fauna composition indicates the existing risk of outbreaks of some species in the future.

Acknowledgements: The study was supported by The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (projects TR31084 and III43007).

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Correspondence to A Ignjatović Ćupina.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Ignjatović Ćupina, A., Werner, D., Kúdela, M. et al. Outbreaks of blackflies and related problems in Serbia: past and present situation. Parasites Vectors 7 (Suppl 1), O3 (2014).

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