Productivity of malaria vectors from different habitat types in the western Kenya highlands.
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BACKGROUND: Mosquito Larval Source Management (LSM) could be a valuable additional tool for integrated malaria vector control especially in areas with focal transmission like the highlands of western Kenya if it were not for the need to target all potential habitats at frequent intervals. The ability to determine the productivity of malaria vectors from identified habitats might be used to target LSM only at productive ones. METHODS: Each aquatic habitat within three highland sites in western Kenya was classified as natural swamp, cultivated swamp, river fringe, puddle, open drain or burrow pit. Three habitats of each type were selected in each site in order to study the weekly productivity of adult malaria vectors from February to May 2009 using a sweep-net and their habitat characteristics recorded. RESULTS: All surveyed habitat types produced adult malaria vectors. Mean adult productivity of Anopheles gambiae sensu lato in puddles (1.8/m(2)) was 11-900 times higher than in the other habitat types. However, puddles were the most unstable habitats having water at 43% of all sampling occasions and accounted for 5% of all habitats mapped in the study areas whereas open drains accounted for 72%. Densities of anopheline late instars larvae significantly increased with the presence of a biofilm but decreased with increasing surface area or when water was flowing. Taking stability and frequency of the habitat into account, puddles were still the most productive habitat types for malaria vectors but closely followed by open drains. CONCLUSION: Even though productivity of An. gambiae s.l. was greatest in small and unstable habitats, estimation of their overall productivity in an area needs to consider the more stable habitats over time and their surface extension. Therefore, targeting only the highly productive habitats is unlikely to provide sufficient reduction in malaria vector densities.