Effects of indoor air movement and ambient temperature on mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) behaviour around bed nets

26.11.21
Janes F. Sutcliffe & Shaoman Yin

Background

Until recently, relatively little research has been done on how mosquitoes behave around the occupied bed net in the indoor environment. This has been partly remedied in the last few years through laboratory and field studies, most of these using video methods and mosquito flight tracking. Despite these recent advances, understanding of the mosquito-bed net environment system, and the principles that underlie mosquito behaviour within it, is limited. This project aimed to further understand this system by studying the effects of gently moving air (such as might be introduced through room design to make the indoor environment more comfortable and conducive to ITN use) and warmer vs. cooler ambient conditions on mosquito activity around ITNs and other bed nets.

Methods

The activity of colonized female Anopheles gambiae around an occupied untreated bed net set up in a mosquito-proof tent in a large laboratory space was recorded under different ambient conditions using a laser detection-video recording system. Conditions tested were ‘cool’ (23–25 °C) and ‘warm’ (27–30 °C) air temperatures and the presence or absence of a cross-flow produced by a small central processing unit (CPU) fan pointed at the side of the net so that it produced a ‘low-’ or ‘high-’ speed cross-draught (approx. 0.1 and 0.4 m/s, respectively). Near-net activity in recordings was measured using video image analysis.

Results

In cool, still air conditions, more than 80% of near-net activity by An. gambiae occurred on the net roof. Introduction of the low-speed or high-speed cross-draught resulted in an almost total drop off in roof activity within 1 to 2 min and, in the case of the high-speed cross-draught, a complementary increase in activity on the net side. In warm, still conditions, near-net activity appeared to be lower overall than in cool, still air conditions and to be relatively less focussed on the roof. Introduction of the high-speed cross-draught in warm conditions resulted in a decrease in roof activity and increase in side activity though neither effect was statistically significant.

Conclusions

Results are interpreted in terms of the flow of the stimulatory odour plume produced by the net occupant which, consistent with established principles of fluid dynamics, appears to rise quickly and remain more intact above the net occupant in cool, still air than in warm, still air. Cross-draught effects are ascribed to the changes they cause in the flow of the host odour plume as opposed to mosquito flight directly. The implications of these results for house designs that promote indoor air movement, on bed net design, and on other vector control measures are discussed. How mosquitoes approach a net is influenced both by indoor temperature and ventilation and their interaction. This system is in need of further study.