Ecological changes associated with anthropogenic ecosystem disturbances can influence human risk of exposure to malaria and other vector-borne infectious diseases. This study in Mwea, Kenya, investigated the pattern of insecticide use in irrigated and nonirrigated agroecosystems and association with the density, survival, and blood-feeding behavior of the malaria vector Anopheles arabiensis. The parity rates of adult An. arabiensis from randomly selected houses were determined by examining their ovaries for tracheal distension, and polymerase chain reaction was used to identify the host blood meals. In addition, structured questionnaires were used to generate data on insecticide use. Anopheles arabiensis densities were highest in irrigated rice agroecosystems, intermediate in irrigated French beans agroecosystems, and lowest in the nonirrigated agroecosystem. Anopheles arabiensis adult survivorship was significantly lower in irrigated rice agroecosystems than in irrigated French beans agroecosystems. The human blood index (HBI) was significantly higher in the nonirrigated agroecosystem compared to irrigated agroecosystems. Moreover, there was marked variation in HBI among villages in irrigated agroecosystems with significantly lower HBI in Kangichiri and Mathangauta compared to Kiuria, Karima, and Kangai. The proportion of mosquitoes with mixed blood meals varied among villages ranging from 0.25 in Kangichiri to 0.83 in Kiuria. Sumithion, dimethoate, and alpha cypermethrin were the most commonly used insecticides. The 1st was used mostly in irrigated rice agroecosystems, and the last 2 were used mostly in irrigated French beans agroecosystems. These findings indicate that agricultural practices may influence the ecology and behavior of malaria vectors and ultimately the risk of malaria transmission.
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