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Predation efficiency of Anopheles gambiae larvae by aquatic predators in western Kenya highlands


Abstract Background The current status of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes and the effects of insecticides on non-target insect species have raised the need for alternative control methods for malaria vectors. Predation has been suggested as one of the important regulation mechanisms for malaria vectors in long-lasting aquatic habitats, but the predation efficiency of the potential predators is largely unknown in the highlands of western Kenya. In the current study, we examined the predation efficiency of five predators on Anopheles gambiae s.s larvae in 24 hour and semi- field evaluations. Methods Predators were collected from natural habitats and starved for 12 hours prior to starting experiments. Preliminary experiments were conducted to ascertain the larval stage most predated by each predator species. When each larval instar was subjected to predation, third instar larvae were predated at the highest rate. Third instar larvae of An. gambiae were introduced into artificial habitats with and without refugia at various larval densities. The numbers of surviving larvae were counted after 24 hours in 24. In semi-field experiments, the larvae were counted daily until they were all either consumed or had developed to the pupal stage. Polymerase chain reaction was used to confirm the presence of An. gambiae DNA in predator guts. Results Experiments found that habitat type (P < 0.0001) and predator species (P < 0.0001) had a significant impact on the predation rate in the 24 hour evaluations. In semi-field experiments, predator species (P < 0.0001) and habitat type (P < 0.0001) were significant factors in both the daily survival and the overall developmental time of larvae. Pupation rates took significantly longer in habitats with refugia. An. gambiae DNA was found in at least three out of ten midguts for all predator species. Gambusia affins was the most efficient, being three times more efficient than tadpoles. Conclusion These experiments provide insight into the efficiency of specific natural predators against mosquito larvae. These naturally occurring predators may be useful in biocontrol strategies for aquatic stage An. gambiae mosquitoes. Further investigations should be done in complex natural habitats for these predators.

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