Abstract. The effects of introducing permethrin-impregnated bednets on local populations of the malaria vector mosquitoes Anopheles funestus and the An.gambiae complex was monitored during a randomized controlled trial at Kilifi on the Kenyan coast. Pyrethrum spray collections inside 762 households were conducted between May 1994 and April 1995 after the introduction of bednets in half of the study area. All-night human bait collections were performed in two zones (one control and one intervention) for two nights each month during the same period. PCR identifications of An.gambiae sensu lato showed that proportions of sibling species were An.gambiae sensu stricto > An.merus > An.arabiensis.
Indoor-resting densities of An.gambiae s.l. and the proportion of engorged females decreased significantly in intervention zones as compared to control zones. However, the human blood index and Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite rate remained unaffected. Also vector parous rates were unaltered by the intervention, implying that survival rates of malaria vectors were not affected. The human-biting density of An.gambiae s.l., the predominant vector, was consistently higher in the intervention zone compared to the control zone, but showed 8% reduction compared to pre-intervention biting rates - versus 94% increase in the control zone.
Bioassay, susceptibility and high-performance liquid chromatography results all indicated that the permethrin content applied to the nets was sufficient to maintain high mortality of susceptible vectors throughout the trial. Increased rates of early outdoor-biting, as opposed to indoor-biting later during the night, were behavioural or vector composition changes associated with this intervention, which would require further monitoring during control programmes employing insecticide-treated bednets.