Anopheles gambiae Giles larvae usually live near the surface of shallow and temporary aquatic habitats. How deep the larvae can dive and how long they can submerge may be related to feeding efficiency and predator avoidance. This study examined diving behavior of An. gambiae larvae in the laboratory. We recorded diving depths and larval mortality of second and fourth instars in clean water and muddy water by using deep water (32-cm) and shallow water (20-cm) columns. In deep water columns with clean water, we found that 2% of second instars and 6% of fourth instars died from diving, whereas 3% of second instars and 11% of fourth instars died in muddy water. The fourth instars dived deeper in muddy water than in clean water. The mortality rates of the fourth instars subjected to diving stimulations were significantly higher than those in the shallow water columns. Therefore, larval diving behavior may offer the benefits of predator avoidance and food acquisition but also incur energetic costs and increased mortality.
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Vol. 41 • No. 4