Larval habitat dynamics and diversity of Culex mosquitoes in rice agro-ecosystem in Mwea, Kenya

Ephantus J. Muturi, Josephat I. Shililu, Weidong Gu, Benjamin G. Jacob, John I. Githure, Robert J. Novak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction of irrigation projects in developing nations has often been blamed for aggravating the problem of mosquito-borne diseases by creating ideal larval habitats for vector mosquitoes. However, whereas several studies have demonstrated the relationship between malaria vectors and irrigation, little work has been done on culicine mosquitoes despite their potential in transmission of filariasis and arboviruses and their significant biting nuisance in these areas. This study examined the diversity of Culex mosquito fauna and their larval habitats at two sites (Murinduko and Kiamachiri) in Mwea, Kenya over a 12-month period. The habitat types present at each site within a 200-meter radius around the study village, including randomly selected paddies and canals, were sampled every two weeks to examine the relationship between vegetation cover, water depth, turbidity, and Culex larval counts. Ten culicine species belonging to four genera were identified, with 73.1% of the total collection comprising of Culex duttoni and Cx. quinquefasciatus. Other species collected included Cx. annulioris, Cx. poicilipes, Cx. cinereus, Cx. tigripes, Cx. trifilatus, Aedes spp., Coquilettidia fuscopennata, and Ficalbia splendens. Murinduko was more diverse than Kiamachiri in terms of species richness (10 versus 7 species) and larval habitat diversity (11 versus 8 habitat types). Paddies, canals, and rain pools were the most diverse habitats in terms of species richness, and ditches, rock pools, and tree holes were the least diverse. Principal component and correlation analyses showed a strong association between three Culex species and the measured habitat characteristics. Culex poicilipes was strongly associated with floating vegetation, Cx. annulioris with clean water containing emergent vegetation, and Cx. quinquefasciatus was associated with turbid water. Seasonal changes in larval counts in water reservoirs and pool and ditch habitats were closely associated with rainfall. These findings provide important information on larval habitat preference for different Culex species, which will be useful in designing and implementation of larval control operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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