Towards a sterile insect technique field release of Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes in Sudan: irradiation, transportation, and field cage experimentation

Michelle E H Helinski, Mo'awia M Hassan, Waleed M El-Motasim, Colin A Malcolm, Bart G J Knols, Badria El-Sayed

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40 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The work described in this article forms part of a study to suppress a population of the malaria vector Anopheles arabiensis in Northern State, Sudan, with the Sterile Insect Technique. No data have previously been collected on the irradiation and transportation of anopheline mosquitoes in Africa, and the first series of attempts to do this in Sudan are reported here. In addition, experiments in a large field cage under near-natural conditions are described.

METHODS: Mosquitoes were irradiated in Khartoum and transported as adults by air to the field site earmarked for future releases (400 km from the laboratory). The field cage was prepared for experiments by creating resting sites with favourable conditions. The mating and survival of (irradiated) laboratory males and field-collected males was studied in the field cage, and two small-scale competition experiments were performed.

RESULTS: Minor problems were experienced with the irradiation of insects, mostly associated with the absence of a rearing facility in close proximity to the irradiation source. The small-scale transportation of adult mosquitoes to the release site resulted in minimal mortality (< 6%). Experiments in the field cage showed that mating occurred in high frequencies (i.e. an average of 60% insemination of females after one or two nights of mating), and laboratory reared males (i.e. sixty generations) were able to inseminate wild females at rates comparable to wild males. Based on wing length data, there was no size preference of males for mates. Survival of mosquitoes from the cage, based on recapture after mating, was satisfactory and approximately 60% of the insects were recaptured after one night. Only limited information on male competitiveness was obtained due to problems associated with individual egg laying of small numbers of wild females.

CONCLUSION: It is concluded that although conditions are challenging, there are no major obstacles associated with the small-scale irradiation and transportation of insects in the current setting. The field cage is suitable for experiments and studies to test the competitiveness of irradiated males can be pursued. The scaling up of procedures to accommodate much larger numbers of insects needed for a release is the next challenge and recommendations to further implementation of this genetic control strategy are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65
JournalMalaria Journal
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2008


  • Animals
  • Anopheles
  • Body Size
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Gamma Rays
  • Insect Vectors
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Mosquito Control
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Sudan
  • Transportation


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