The intensive use of chemical insecticides against mosquitoes has led to the development of widespread insecticide resistance. Control of Anopheles mosquitoes in malaria endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa has become increasingly difficult. There is an urgent need for malaria control programmes to adopt more integrated mosquito management approaches that include sustainable, nonchemical solutions. The mermithid nematode Romanomermis iyengari is one of several natural control alternatives to synthetic pesticides for mosquito suppression. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the nematode R. iyengari for control of Anopheles gambiae.
The nematode R. iyengari was mass-produced, and pre-parasitic stage (J2) were used for laboratory and field experiments. In laboratory experiments, two concentrations of pre-parasitics (5 and 10 J2 per larva) were tested against first- (L1), second- (L2) and third-instar (L3) larvae of An. gambiae. Infected larvae were observed daily to determine their mortality rate and the number of post-parasitic nematodes emerging from dead larvae. In field experiments, 3500, 4000 and 5000 J2/m 2 were sprayed in separate natural Anopheles breeding sites. After treatment, the larval mosquito density in the breeding sites was assessed every 5–7 days.
Laboratory results showed that larval An. gambiae is susceptible to nematode infection: 100% L1 larvae died within 24 hours post-treatment, and 100% of both L2 and L3 larvae died within 7 days, regardless of nematode concentrations. The average number of post-parasitic nematodes emerging per larva increased with increasing nematode concentration. In field experiments, the monthly applications of 3500 to 5000 pre-parasitic nematodes per m 2 eliminated larval mosquito development in Anopheles- and mixed breeding sites. Larval mosquito density dramatically decreased five days after the first treatment in all treated sites and was maintained at a very low level during the whole experimental period. Basically, only early instar larva were detected in treated sites throughout the test period. The average number of post-parasitic nematodes emerging per larva collected in treated sites was 1.45, 2, and 5.7 respectively for sites treated with 3500, 4000, and 5000 J2/m 2.