Mating in Anopheles gambiae has been observed only in outdoor swarms. Here we evaluate whether mating also occurs indoors. Mark-release-recapture of virgin males and females in natural houses showed that mating occurred over a single day even when mosquitoes can leave the house through exit traps and without adaptation to laboratory conditions. In these experiments, insemination rate in the M molecular form of An. gambiae (and An. arabiensis) was higher than that of the S form (15 versus 6%). Under these conditions, smaller females of the M form mated more frequently than larger females of that form. Sampling mosquitoes throughout the day showed that both sexes enter houses around sunrise and leave around sunset, staying indoors together from dawn to dusk. In an area dominated by the M form, the daily rate of insemination in samples from exit traps was ≈5% higher than in those from entry traps, implying that mating occurred indoors. Importantly, frequency of cross mating between the molecular forms was as high as that between members of the same form, indicating that, indoors, assortative mating breaks down. Altogether, these results suggest that indoor mating is an alternative mating strategy of the M molecular form of An. gambiae. Because naturally occurring mating couples have not yet been observed indoors, this conclusion awaits validation.
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Vol. 45 • No. 4