Dry season refugia of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in a dry savannah zone of east Africa.

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  • 1 Department of Entomology, University of Wageningen, The Netherlands. dc@bilharziasis.dk

Dry season survival of Anopheles funestus, Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles arabiensis in the Kilombero valley a dry savannah zone of east Africa, was investigated with over 400 collections from 23 areas, covering 300 sq km of the valley. Anopheles gambiae was found only in association with humans, in forested areas of high annual rainfall, while An. funestus occurred at high densities at the valley edge where large non-moving bodies of water remained. A large population of An. arabiensis was present along the river system throughout the middle of the valley, and mosquitoes probably derived from this population were occasionally caught in villages bordering the valley. No evidence was obtained of aestivation in any mosquito species. Anopheles gambiae was the most long lived, 6.3% compared to 2.0% of the An. arabiensis and 4% of the An. funestus surviving for four or more gonotrophic cycles, the approximate duration of the extrinsic cycle of most malaria parasites. Oocysts of malaria parasites were found in 5.4% of An. funestus and 2.3% of An. arabiensis from villages. Oocyst rates in An. funestus differed significantly between areas but not between houses within areas. Anopheles funestus is the most important dry season malaria vector in the valley, and remains in foci closely associated with groups of houses. All three species survive at high densities but as otherwise hidden refugia populations.