Skin parasites are ingested during tsetse pool-feeding. Mice were IP infected with T.b. brucei AnTat1.1E AMLuc/TY1/tdTomato and the parasitaemia and bioluminescence were monitored daily until the day of xenodiagnosis. The number of parasites in the blood was determined using a haemocytometer or a flux cytometer. The number of parasites in the skin was estimated from the measured bioluminescence intensity by using a standard curve (Table 1—source data 1 and Table 1—source data 2). Batches of teneral flies were fed on different skin regions of mice infected with differing levels of bioluminescence across the skin and with differing levels of parasitaemia (Table 1—source data 2 and Table 1—source data 3). Fly batches A4A, A2A, B1A, 3B and 3A were used to assess tsetse transmission in hosts with low numbers of blood parasites but high numbers skin parasites, while fly batches 1B, 1A, 4B, 4A, 2B, 2A, B2B and B4A were used to investigate the impact of high numbers of parasites in both the skin and blood. Flies were dissected and their midguts checked for the presence of fluorescent trypanosomes after two days to determine the proportion of infected flies (Table 1—source data 4A–B). For some of these experiments, results of an in-depth quantification of parasite stages by IFA is provided in Supplementary file 4. Stumpy forms were observed only in the blood of mice with parasitaemia values highlighted in purple. Bioluminescence was detected in the skin of mice with values highlighted in grey.