New insights into the behaviour of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in sub-Saharan Africa shed light on how different species use distinctive methods to persist throughout the dry season. The findings, published this week in Nature, may allow for more precise targeting of mosquito populations and improve malaria control.
Malaria – a disease responsible for over half a million deaths each year, mostly in Africa – is transmitted by several different species of mosquitoes. The behaviour of mosquito populations during the dry season, including how they survive without the water required for larval development, has long been unclear. Tovi Lehmann and colleagues analysed data from a five-year field study of three mosquito species to determine how population sizes change seasonally. Their findings suggest that two of the species engage in long-distance migration during the dry season, while the remaining species enters into a form of suspended development (similar to hibernation) called aestivation. These results may help to inform elimination strategies and predict shifts in the range of malaria due to climate change.
Scientific paper DOI: 10.1038/nature13987 Author: Tovi Lehmann (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rockville, MD, USA)