We determined changes in species composition and densities of immature stages of Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes in relation to rice growth cycle in order to generate data for developing larval control strategies in rice ecosystems. Experimental rice paddies (6.3m × 3.15m) exposed to natural colonization of mosquitoes were sampled weekly for two rice growing cycles between February 2004 and March 2005. Overall, 21,325 Anopheles larvae were collected, of which 91.9% were 1st and 2nd instars and 8.1% were 3rd and 4th instars. An. arabiensis was the predominant species (84.1%) with other species, An. pharoensis (13.5%), An. funestus (2.1%), An. coustani (0.3%), and An. maculipalpis (0.1%) accounting for only a small proportion of the anophelines collected. Culex quinquefasciatus (65.7%) was the predominant species among the non-anopheline species. Others species collected included: C. annulioris (9.9%), C. poicilipes (7.3%), C. tigripes (7.2%), C. duttoni (0.6%), Aedes aegypti (5.3%), Ae. cumminsii (3.5%), and Ae. vittatus (0.7%). The densities of the major anopheline species were closely related to rice stage and condition of the rice field. An. arabiensis, the predominant species, was most abundant over a three-week period after transplanting. Low densities of larvae were collected during the late vegetative, reproductive, and ripening phases of rice. An increase in larval density ten days post-transplanting was found to correlate with the application of fertilizer (sulphate of ammonia). Culicine and aedine species densities were significantly higher during the post-harvesting period. Our results suggest that the transplanting stage is favorable for the growth of immature stages of An. arabiensis and provides a narrow window for targeted larval intervention in rice.
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