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Keywords:

  • Anopheles funestus;
  • Anopheles gambiae complex;
  • bacterial larvicides;
  • drainage;
  • environmental management;
  • irrigation;
  • IRS;
  • ITN;
  • IVM;
  • malaria vector control;
  • mosquito larvae;
  • larval control;
  • larvicide;
  • larvivorous fish;
  • water management;
  • tropical Africa

Abstract Malaria vector control targeting the larval stages of mosquitoes was applied successfully against many species of Anopheles (Diptera: Culicidae) in malarious countries until the mid-20th Century. Since the introduction of DDT in the 1940s and the associated development of indoor residual spraying (IRS), which usually has a more powerful impact than larval control on vectorial capacity, the focus of malaria prevention programmes has shifted to the control of adult vectors. In the Afrotropical Region, where malaria is transmitted mainly by Anopheles funestus Giles and members of the Anopheles gambiae Giles complex, gaps in information on larval ecology and the ability of An. gambiae sensu lato to exploit a wide variety of larval habitats have discouraged efforts to develop and implement larval control strategies. Opportunities to complement adulticiding with other components of integrated vector management, along with concerns about insecticide resistance, environmental impacts, rising costs of IRS and logistical constraints, have stimulated renewed interest in larval control of malaria vectors. Techniques include environmental management, involving the temporary or permanent removal of anopheline larval habitats, as well as larviciding with chemical or biological agents. This present review covers large-scale trials of anopheline larval control methods, focusing on field studies in Africa conducted within the past 15 years. Although such studies are limited in number and scope, their results suggest that targeting larvae, particularly in human-made habitats, can significantly reduce malaria transmission in appropriate settings. These approaches are especially suitable for urban areas, where larval habitats are limited, particularly when applied in conjunction with IRS and other adulticidal measures, such as the use of insecticide treated bednets.