Anopheles funestus sensu stricto Giles (Diptera:Culicidae)bites after sunrise at two rural villages in northern Malawi and its implications for malaria vector control

Themba Mzilahowa1, Steven Gowelo1, John Chiphwanya2, Andrew Bauleni1, Mavuto Mukaka3,4

  1. MAC Communicable Diseases Action Centre, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi
  2. National Malaria Control Programme, Lilongwe, Malawi
  3. Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
  4. Centre for Tropical Medicine, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK

*Corresponding Authors: Themba Mzilahowa; E-mail:

Malawi has scaled up distribution and use of LLINs but their effectiveness depends on vector behaviour. This study reports information on where and when peak biting takes place by Anopheles vectors at two study sites in northern Malawi.
The study was carried out at a single village each in Nkhata Bay and Karonga districts, northern Malawi. Monthly, three teams of four people each sampled mosquitoes using Human Landing Collections (HLCs) from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am. Mosquitoes were counted and identified by PCR. Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites were detected by ELISA and an entomological inoculation rate was estimated.
A total of 4,668 and 2,079 mosquitoes were sampled in Nkhata Bay and Karonga districts respectively. An. funestus s.s was common (91.3%; n = 2,611) in Nkhata Bay while An. arabiensis was common (96.9%; n = 706) in Karonga. Pf sporozoite rates varied from 0.8% (4/484) to 3.3% (51/1558). Individuals in Nkhata Bay received more bites (approx. 200 bites/ person/ night) compared to Karonga (approx. 50 bites/ person/ night). An. funestus was more likely to bite indoors (p=0.002) while An. arabiensis was (p=0.05) more likely to bite outdoors. Furthermore, An. funestus peak biting was in the early morning hours from 4:00 am (approx. 331 and 177 bites/ person/ night indoors and outdoors respectively) and remained high till 6:00 am. An. arabiensis peak biting (approx. 63 and 62 bites/ person/ night indoors and outdoors respectively) was around mid-night (12:00). An EIR of 108.4 infective bites/ person/ year was estimated for Nkhata Bay compared to 9.1 infective bites/ person/ year for Karonga.
An. funestus s.s. had a considerable Pf sporozite infection rate and EIR. The shift in biting behaviour shown by this species poses a challenge to malaria control. Further studies are required to understand the biting behaviour of Anopheles vectors in Malawi.

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