The invasive weed P. hysterophorus may sustain mosquitoes for longer than other weeds can.
Photo: © Copyright ICIPE

22.10.2015

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An invasive weed may worsen the malaria epidemic in East Africa by sustaining the mosquitoes that transmit the disease, a study by the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology says.

An aggressive weed called Parthenium hysterophorus provides mosquitoes with enough energy to live longer than they would from feeding on two other existing weeds. This could increase the mosquitoes’ chances of multiplying and transmitting malaria parasites. These are the findings of a study “The Invasive American Weed Parthenium hysterophorus Can Negatively Impact Malaria Control in Africa” published in PLOS One in September this year.
 
Researchers at the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology – ICIPE -  fed female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes on nectar from P. hysterophorus and two other weeds that are abundant in malaria endemic regions in western Kenya and that insects could feed on: Ricinus communis and Bidens pilosa.
 
They found that both P. hysterophorus and R. communis gave the mosquitoes enough energy, in the form of sugar and fat reserves, to enable the insects to survive several days longer than those that fed on B.

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