New evidence of mating swarms of the malaria vector, Anopheles arabiensis in Tanzania

Kaindoa, E. W., Ngowo, H. S. , Limwagu, A., Mkandawile, G., Kihonda, J., Masalu, J. P., Bwanary, H., Diabate, A. and Okumu, F. O. (2017) New evidence of mating swarms of the malaria vector, Anopheles arabiensis in Tanzania. Wellcome Open Research, 2, 88. (doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.12458.1) (PMID:29184918) (PMCID:PMC5691375)

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Background: Malaria mosquitoes form mating swarms around sunset, often at the same locations for months or years. Unfortunately, studies of Anopheles swarms are rare in East Africa, the last recorded field observations in Tanzania having been in 1983. Methods: Mosquito swarms were surveyed by trained volunteers between August-2016 and June-2017 in Ulanga district, Tanzania. Identified Anopheles swarms were sampled using sweep nets, and collected mosquitoes killed by refrigeration then identified by sex and taxa. Sub-samples were further identified by PCR, and spermatheca of females examined for mating status. Mosquito ages were estimated by observing female ovarian tracheoles and rotation of male genitalia. GPS locations, types of swarm markers, start/end times of swarming, heights above ground, mosquito counts/swarm, and copulation events were recorded. Results: A total of 216 Anopheles swarms were identified, characterized and mapped, from which 7,142 Anopheles gambiae s.l and 13 Anopheles funestus were sampled. The An. gambiae s.l were 99.6% males and 0.4% females, while the An. funestus were all males. Of all An. gambiae s.l analyzed by PCR, 86.7% were An. arabiensis, while 13.3% returned non-amplified DNA. Mean height (±SD) of swarms was 2.74±0.64m, and median duration was 20 (IQR; 15-25) minutes. Confirmed swarm markers included rice fields (25.5%), burned grounds (17.2%), banana trees (13%), brick piles (8.8%), garbage heaps (7.9%) and ant-hills (7.4%). Visual estimates of swarm sizes by the volunteers was strongly correlated to actual sizes by sweep nets (R=0.94; P=<0.001). All females examined were nulliparous and 95.6% [N=6787] of males had rotated genitalia, indicating sexual maturity. Conclusions: This is the first report of Anopheles swarms in Tanzania in more than three decades. The study demonstrates that the swarms can be identified and characterized by trained community-based volunteers, and highlights potential new interventions, for example targeted aerosol spraying of the swarms to improve malaria control.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Anopheles swarms, malaria, mating behavior of mosquitoes, vector control.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ngowo, Halfan and Okumu, Dr Fredros
Authors: Kaindoa, E. W., Ngowo, H. S., Limwagu, A., Mkandawile, G., Kihonda, J., Masalu, J. P., Bwanary, H., Diabate, A., and Okumu, F. O.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Wellcome Open Research
ISSN (Online):2398-502X
Published Online:22 September 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Kaindoa EW et al.
First Published:First published in Wellcome Open Research 2:88
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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