Enhanced development in nature of larval Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes feeding on maize pollen.

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  • 1 Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

To determine whether pollen produced by maize (Zea m. mays) may contribute to the development of larval Anopheles gambiae complex mosquitoes, the main African vectors of malaria, we correlated duration of larval development, pupation success, and size of the resulting adults with degree of access to this potential nutriment. Maize pollen is abundant during the wet season on the surface of water near maize plantings in a malaria-endemic region of Ethiopia, and larval Anopheles arabiensis readily ingest these particles in nature. Larvae develop to the pupal stage more rapidly, more frequently, and produce larger adults where maize pollen is abundant than do those that have little access to this food. The force of transmission of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa might be reduced if maize plantings were excluded from the immediate vicinity of homes or, perhaps, if pollen of such maize were to express entomotoxins.