Anopheles gambiae Giles is the most important vector of human malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Knowledge of the factors that influence its daily oviposition pattern is crucial if field interventions targeting gravid females are to be successful. This laboratory study investigated the effect of oviposition substrate and time of blood feeding on daily oviposition patterns of An. gambiae mosquitoes.
Greenhouse-reared gravid and hypergravid (delayed oviposition onset) An. gambiae sensu stricto and wild-caught An. gambiae sensu lato were exposed to three types of substrates in choice and no-choice cage bioassays: water from a predominantly anopheline colonised ground pool (anopheline habitat water), swamp water mainly colonised by culicine larvae (culicine habitat water) and distilled water. The daily oviposition pattern and the number of eggs oviposited on each substrate during the entire egg-laying period were determined. The results were subjected to analysis of variance using the General Linear Model (GLM) procedure.
The main oviposition time for greenhouse-reared An. gambiae s.s. was between 19:00 and 20:00 hrs, approximately one hour after sunset. Wild-caught gravid An. gambiae s.l. displayed two distinct peak oviposition times between 19:00 and 20:00 hrs and between 22:00 and 23:00 hrs, respectively. During these times, both greenhouse-reared and wild-caught mosquitoes significantly (P < 0.05) preferred anopheline habitat water to the culicine one. Peak oviposition activity was not delayed when the mosquitoes were exposed to the less preferred oviposition substrate (culicine habitat water). However, culicine water influenced negatively (P < 0.05) not only the number of eggs oviposited by the mosquitoes during peak oviposition time but also the overall number of gravid mosquitoes that laid their eggs on it. The differences in mosquito feeding times did not affect the daily oviposition patterns displayed.
This study shows that the peak oviposition time of An. gambiae s.l. may be regulated by the light-dark cycle rather than oviposition habitat characteristics or feeding times. However, the number of eggs laid by the female mosquito during the peak oviposition time is affected by the suitability of the habitat.