No previous studies have been conducted on the natural food of larval Anopheles culicifacies s.l. (the major malaria vector) and An. varuna (a secondary vector) in Sri Lanka. The present study analyzed the contents of guts dissected from larvae collected from pools in a natural stream-cum-irrigation conveyance channel in the Upper Yan Oya watershed in the North Central Province of the country during August–September 1997 and July 1998. Determinations of physicochemical and biological parameters of the pools and their water were done at the same time. A fluorochromatic stain, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, was used to stain larval gut contents. Quantitative estimates of different categories of food types were made by analyzing the gut contents of 95 An. culicifacies (26 second instars and 69 fourth instars) and 52 An. varuna (21 second instars and 31 fourth instars). Detritus was the most frequent food type, comprising >74% of the gut contents in both species. Other food types included bacteria (cocci and rods), filamentous algae, diatoms, and desmids. Overall, bacteria constituted a significantly higher proportion of the gut contents in An. culicifacies than in An varuna. Significantly more detritus, bacteria, and total particulate matter occurred in 4th instars of An. culicifacies than in An. varuna, indicating a greater food intake in the former species. Second instars of An. culicifacies and An. varuna did not differ significantly in any parameter. A significant increase in food intake between 2nd and 4th instars was seen for An. culicifacies, but not An. varuna. Food indices were lower in An. varuna than in An. culicifacies when the 2 species co-occurred, indicating competition for food, and the implications of this to adult body size, survival, and fecundity are discussed.
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Vol. 21 • No. 4