Visualization of house-entry behaviour of malaria mosquitoes
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BACKGROUND: Malaria mosquitoes often blood feed indoors on human hosts. The mosquitoes predominantly enter houses via open eaves. Host-seeking is odour-driven, and finding a host depends on the quality of the odour plume and whether the route towards the host is free of obstructions. Little is known about in-flight behaviour of mosquitoes during house entry. This semi-field study visualizes mosquito house entry in three dimensions (3D) and offers new insights for optimizing vector control interventions. METHODS: The approach and house entry of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto was studied in a semi-field set-up using video-recorded flight tracks and 3D analysis. Behavioural parameters of host-seeking female mosquitoes were visualized with respect to their position relative to the eave as well as whether a mosquito would enter or not. Host odour was standardized using an attractive synthetic blend in addition to CO2. The study was conducted in western Kenya at the Thomas Odhiambo Campus of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Mbita. RESULTS: The majority of host-seeking An. gambiae approached a house with a flight altitude at eave level, arriving within a horizontal arc of 180°. Fifty-five per cent of mosquitoes approaching a house did not enter or made multiple attempts before passing through the eave. During approach, mosquitoes greatly reduced their speed and the flight paths became more convoluted. As a result, mosquitoes that passed through the eave spent more than 80 % of the observed time within 30 cm of the eave. Mosquitoes that exited the eave departed at eave level and followed the edge of the roof (12.5 %) or quickly re-entered after exiting (9.6 %). CONCLUSIONS: The study shows that host-seeking mosquitoes, when entering a house, approach the eave in a wide angle to the house at eave level. Less than 25 % of approaching mosquitoes entered the house without interruption, whereas 12.5 % of mosquitoes that had entered left the house again within the time of observation. Advances in tracking techniques open a new array of questions that can now be answered to improve household interventions that combat malaria transmission.
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