Agricultural chemicals: life changer for mosquito vectors in agricultural landscapes?

Tabitha W. Kibuthu, Sammy M. Njenga, Amos K. Mbugua, Ephantus J. Muturi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although many mosquito species develop within agricultural landscapes where they are potentially exposed to agricultural chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides), the effects of these chemicals on mosquito biology remain poorly understood. This study investigated the effects of sublethal concentrations of four agricultural chemicals on the life history traits of Anopheles arabiensis and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes. Methods: Field and laboratory experiments were conducted to examine how sublethal concentrations of four agricultural chemicals: an insecticide (cypermethrin), a herbicide (glyphosate), and two nitrogenous fertilizers (ammonium sulfate and diammonium phosphate) alter oviposition site selection, emergence rates, development time, adult body size, and longevity of An. arabiensis and Cx. quinquefasciatus. Results: Both mosquito species had preference to oviposit in fertilizer treatments relative to pesticide treatments. Emergence rates for An. arabiensis were significantly higher in the control and ammonium sulfate treatments compared to cypermethrin treatment, while emergence rates for Cx. quinquefasciatus were significantly higher in the diammonium phosphate treatment compared to glyphosate and cypermethrin treatments. For both mosquito species, individuals from the ammonium sulfate and diammonium phosphate treatments took significantly longer time to develop compared to those from cypermethrin and glyphosate treatments. Although not always significant, males and females of both mosquito species tended to be smaller in the ammonium sulfate and diammonium phosphate treatments compared to cypermethrin and glyphosate treatments. There was no significant effect of the agrochemical treatments on the longevity of either mosquito species. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that the widespread use of agricultural chemicals to enhance crop production can have unexpected effects on the spatial distribution and abundance of mosquito vectors of malaria and lymphatic filariasis.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number500
Pages (from-to)500
JournalParasites & Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 13 2016


  • INHS
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Life history traits
  • Anopheles arabiensis
  • Sublethal concentrations
  • Culex quinquefasciatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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