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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 58  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 119-125

Seasonal Diversity of mosquito species in Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka, India

1 Department of Zoology, Vivekananda College, Puttur, Karnataka, India
2 ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre, Field Station, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Department of Applied Zoology, Mangalore University, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission23-Dec-2019
Date of Acceptance17-Feb-2020
Date of Web Publication13-Jan-2022

Correspondence Address:
K S Sreepada
Department of Applied Zoology, Mangalore University, Mangalagangothri- 574 100
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-9062.321758

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Background & objectives: Dakshina Kannada is one of the districts of Karnataka state of India with high incidences of mosquito-borne diseases, especially malaria and dengue. The larval stages of the mosquitoes are very important in determining the prevalence of adult mosquitoes and associated diseases. Hence, the occurrence of mosquito species was investigated by sampling different water bodies present in the Dakshina Kannada district from June 2014 to May 2017.
Methods: Random sampling was carried out from permanent and temporary, artificial and natural water bodies belonging to 11 types of microhabitats using dippers and suction pumps.
Results: A maximum of 37 mosquito species belonging to 12 genera were recorded with the dominant genera being Culex. Most species have been recorded from temporary bodies of water with the highest number of species in receptacles. Monsoon is the most productive season, both in terms of occurrence and abundance followed by post-monsoon and pre-monsoon. The abundance of mosquito larvae was significantly higher in temporary water bodies compared to the permanent.
Interpretation & conclusion: Abundant rainfall in the study area which produces many natural and domestic temporary water bodies accounts for mosquito breeding throughout the year.

Keywords: Mosquito; diversity; season; habitats

How to cite this article:
Ishwara Prasad K S, Govindarajan R, Sreepada K S. Seasonal Diversity of mosquito species in Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka, India. J Vector Borne Dis 2021;58:119-25

How to cite this URL:
Ishwara Prasad K S, Govindarajan R, Sreepada K S. Seasonal Diversity of mosquito species in Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka, India. J Vector Borne Dis [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 26];58:119-25. Available from: https://www.jvbd.org/text.asp?2021/58/2/119/321758

  Introduction Top

India is ranked fifth after Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in terms of mosquito species diversity[1] consisting of 393 species in 49 genera and 41 subgenera. Of these, less than 10% (31 species) are recognized in India as vectors of mosquito-borne diseases[2]. Recent updates added 10 species, raising the checklist to 403 species belonging to 50 genera contributing more than 11% of the world mosquito species[3]. Checklists are accessible from southern India, including 31 species of Anopheles mosquitoes from eastern slopes of the Western Ghats[4], 119 species from the Nilgiri hills[5] and 124 species from the phytotelmatic habitats of the Western Ghats hills of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu[6].

The life cycle of a mosquito requires a spectrum of aquatic environments. The lentic bodies serve as oviposition sites for the female and nurseries for the developmental stages of mosquitoes. These water bodies range from seasonal tree holes to permanent water bodies such as ponds and lakes[7]. While the larger proportion of mosquito larvae prefers still water, there are larvae that live in slow-flowing streams, irrigational canals such as Anopheles minimus[8],[9],[10], An. culicifacies[11],[12],[13], An. fluviatilis, An. subpictus, An. pseudojemesi, An. barbirostris, An. jeyporiensis[14]. Therefore, the distribution of mosquito species is greatly influenced by the availability and the type of breeding habitats. The rapid urbanization process required the anthropological alteration of water and land resources resulting in water retention systems that eventually provide aquatic habitats for the development of mosquito larvae. Furthermore, the deforestation that triggers the forest-dwelling mosquito species to acclimatize to human habitation provides a broad range of new ecological niches for these species. Agricultural practices using extensive irrigation creates sustainable temporary habitats for the mosquitoes even in the unfavorable dry season, which also makes a significant contribution to the prevalence of mosquito species[15].

In the state of Karnataka, studies on mosquito diversity were carried out in some regions of Mysore, Mandya, Udupi and Bellary district[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23]. Although the coastal areas and adjacent foothills of Western Ghats of Dakshina Kannada district were at high risk of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue in the past several decades, the detailed survey on the occurrence of the mosquitoes is wanting. Except for the preliminary survey conducted in Mangaluru taluk of Dakshina Kannada district which reported 26 species of mosquitoes belonging to 6 genera, none of the studies have reported mosquito diversity in the district[24]. [Figure 1] represents the incidences of malaria and dengue in the Dakshina Kannada district in recent years. Along with these, other mosquito-borne diseases like filariasis and chikungunya were also reported from the district. Alarmingly, the two coastal cities of Karnataka, Mangaluru of Dakshina Kannada district and Udupi contribute about 72% of malaria cases in the state[25]. Therefore, a systematic mosquito larval sampling was done in the water bodies of the Dakshina Kannada district.
Figure 1: Incidences of malaria and dengue in the Dakshina Kannada District India
(Source: District health office)

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  Material & Methods Top

Study site

The Dakshina Kannada district is situated in the southwestern part between the seashore of the Arabian Sea and Western Ghats foothill forests extending between 12.8438° N, 75.2479° E. The primary agriculture is areca nut along with paddy, coconut, black pepper, rubber and cocoa as additional crops. The district is also home to some major industries such as Mangalore Chemical and Fertilizers Ltd. (MCF), Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL) and port like New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT). Rapid development projects in urban and semi-urban areas and the expansion of rubber plantations, irrigation systems of the areca garden provided excellent breeding habitats for mosquitoes, making this area highly vulnerable to mosquito proliferation. In addition, the climatic conditions marked by heavy rainfall and flooding during the monsoon season (June-September), sporadic post-monsoon rain (October-January) and frequent pre- monsoon rainfall during hot summer (February-May) generate a lot of temporary and permanent water pools that keep the mosquito population incessant.


The Larval sampling was undertaken from June 2014 to May 2017. Monthly random samplings were done in five taluks namely Bantwal, Belthangady, Mangaluru, Puttur and Sullia from different types of water bodies. The geographical coordinates in each study site were noted using a Garmin eTrex GPS and a Google map was constructed using Google Earth [Figure 2]. In each study site, the mosquito breeding sites include permanent natural water bodies (ponds and swamps), permanent artificial water bodies (tanks); temporary natural water collections (streams, temporary pools, tree holes, areca sheaths and leaf axils) and temporary artificial water bodies (paddy fields, receptacles and tyres). Larval sampling was done using a 300ml capacity dipper. From large water bodies like the pond, swamp and streams, etc. three dips were taken. From the smaller habitats such as receptacles, areca sheath, etc., the entire water was poured. A small suction pump was used to collect larvae from inaccessible habitats such as tree hole, tyres, tree stump and leaf axils. These samples were brought to the laboratory, Department of Zoology, Vivekananda College Puttur, for further processing and identification.
Figure 2: Location map of Dakshina Kannada district and larval sampling sites.

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Preservation and identification

From each sample, three to four IV instar larvae were separated and starved for a day and then killed in hot water on the next day. In some cases they were individually reared for the identification of the related fourth instar larva. The larvae and larval skin were then stored in a small vial containing 70% ethyl alcohol. The remaining larvae were reared in white enamel trays placed inside the insectary (20 × 20 × 20 cm). The larval feed was provided daily in ad libitum with 3:1 powdered dog biscuits and yeast. Emerging adults were fed with a 10% sucrose solution soaked in cotton which was kept in the insectary. Mosquitoes were collected and anesthetized using diethyl ether after a day of emergence, using an aspirator tube or test tube. The larvae and adult mosquitoes were identified using standard keys[7],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34]. Verification of the species was done by dissecting larvae and by mounting the male hypopygium of adults. Further confirmation of the species was done by entomologist working in ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre, Field Station, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. The abbreviations of generic names provided by Reinert[35] were followed.

Data analysis

Seasonal and taluk wise Shannon-Weaver index (H’) for species evenness and richness[36], Simpson’s index (D) for species dominance[37],[38], Evenness index (e^H/S) for the relative abundance of species, Margalef index for richness index was determined using PAST (PAleontological STatistics) software version 3.14. Mosquito species similarity between the various habitats was calculated using the Bray-Curtis similarity index[39]. The abundance of mosquito larvae in different habitats was compared by independent t-test using SPSS software (25.0).

  Results and Discussion Top

A total of 37 species of mosquito belonging to 12 genera and 12 subgenera were recorded for the first time in the district. Of these, genus Culex was the most predominant comprised of 16 species followed by genus Anopheles representing 8 species. The distribution of mosquito species reveals that 84.7% of larvae come from transient and 15.3% come from permanent water bodies. Among the species, the most dominant species was Stegomyia albopicta (27.4%), followed by Armigeres subalbatus (19%), Cx. quinquefasciatus,An. stephensi (6.5%) and Cx. tritaeniorhynchus (4.9%).

Of the total species collected, 35 species were found in temporary water bodies and 19 species were found in permanent water bodies. Within temporary habitats, receptacles showed the highest of 16 species followed by tree holes and temporary pools with 12 species each, and areca sheaths with 11 species. Among permanent habitats, tanks showed a maximum of 13 species followed by swamps 8 species and ponds 7 species. The abundance of mosquito larvae in temporary water bodies was x̅4.32 (s=2.36). By comparison, the abundance of larvae in permanent water bodies was numerically smaller x̅3.76 (s=1.71). There was a significant difference in the abundance of mosquito larvae between temporary and permanent water bodies (t = 5.50, p = 0.001). Furthermore, the abundance of mosquito larvae was also significantly lower in artificial habitats compared to the natural habitats (t = -4.07, p = 0.001).

Although most of the species were collected from multiple habitats, 11 species were collected from single habitat. These include Cx. pallidothorax and Cx. minor (cement tanks), Malaya genurostris (leaf axils), Cx. vishnui (paddy fields), Cx. flavicornis and Stegomyia aegypti (receptacles), An. barbirostris (streams), An. tessellates (temporary pools), Cx. brevipalpis, Downsiomyia niveus, Hulecoeteomyia chrysolineata and Phagomyia prominens (tree holes). Of these recorded species, Lutzia halifaxii and Toxorhynchites splendens larvae were predatory in nature but collected from some areas in very low numbers.

The Bray-Curtis Similarity index [Figure 3] indicates that the receptacles and areca sheaths have a similarity index of 0.65 as both habitats were temporary water bodies the composition of the species was similar. Among the larger habitats, paddy fields and swamps were showing high similarity (0.57). The analysis shows that the species found in smaller water bodies form a cluster and the species found in large water bodies form another cluster.
Figure 3: Bray-Curtis similarity indices among the habitats based on the seasonal abundance and occurrence of mosquito larvae (AS-Areca Sheaths; CT-Cement Tanks; LA-Leaf Axils; PF-Paddy Fields; Po-Ponds; Re-Receptacles; St-Streams; Sw- Swamps; TH-Tree Holes; TP-Temporary Pools; Ty-Tyres).

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The seasonal occurrences of mosquito species revealed that a maximum of 35 species were recorded during monsoon season followed by 23 species during the post-monsoon season and 15 species during pre-monsoon season [Table 1]. The higher species richness during monsoon season may be due to the availability of innumerable breeding sites. The species richness (S) showed following descending order among the five taluks: Bantwal (32), Puttur (28), Mangaluru (27), Sullia (25) and Belthangady (21). Diversity indices namely Shannon and Simpson’s index showed little variation among the different taluks [Table 2]. Seasonally, the Shannon-Weaver index was high during monsoon (2.57) and post-monsoon (2.43) due to the increase in the number of breeding habitats that depend upon rainfall and low during pre-monsoon season (2.0). Simpson’s index was similar to a range of 0.83 to 0.87. During monsoon, the evenness index was marginally low (0.37) and was equal during pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons (0.49). Nevertheless, during pre- monsoon, the dominance was high (0.17) compared to the other two seasons (monsoon = 014, post-monsoon=0.13) reflecting the dominance of few species during pre-monsoon.
Table 1: Seasonal occurrence of mosquito larvae in different habitats of Dakshina Kannada District[48]

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Table 2: Mosquito larval diversity indices (seasonal and taluk wise) in the Dakshina Kannada district from June 2014 to May 2017

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Of the recorded species, 12 species are known to be vectors of various mosquito-borne diseases. Three malarial vectors An. annularis, An. maculatus and An. stephensi were collected during all three seasons. An. stephensi was primarily obtained from urban and semi-urban cement reservoirs of permanent nature. The species is considered as a primary urban vector and breeds mainly in man-made containers[40]. In Mangaluru city, water stored in tanks on construction sites and stagnant water under construction sites was presumed to provide an ideal breeding site for Anopheles mosquito[41]. Larval surveillance and control program is recommended to monitor the urban malaria vector An. stephensi[42]. The vectors An. annularis and An. maculatus were collected from rural paddy fields, ponds and swamps of rural areas of the district.

During the present study, six Japanese encephalitis (JE) vectors namely An. barbirostris, Cx. fuscocephala, Cx. gelidus, Cx. quinquefasciatus, Cx. tritaeniorhynchus and Cx. vishnui were collected. Among these, Cx. quinquefasciatus is also an elephantiasis vector that was collected during the early months of monsoon and post-monsoon in large numbers from six different types of breeding sites. The other species Cx. tritaeniorhynchus, which transmits the JE virus was recorded from several permanent water bodies throughout the year. Recent studies have reported that JE transmission can take place from endemic to non-endemic areas of India[43]. Even though there were rare cases of JE reported in the district, the presence of different incremented vector species, associated breeding grounds and availability of vertebrate host[44] like goats and pigs is a warning sign for the district. Therefore, if control measures are not taken, disease outbreak may occur, as evidenced in the neighboring southern states[45].

The most common species found in a wide variety of temporary water bodies was Stegomyia albopicta. Adaptation of this species to breed in multiple niches provided a potential chance for the proliferation. In addition, it acts as an emerging arboviral vector in the Western Ghats foothills. The species has been collected throughout the year with a rapid increase during the month of May with the onset of rain. St. aegypti, on the other hand, was a rare species recorded from rural and semi-urban areas, breeding only in water stored in artificial containers such as plastic tanks and mud pots. Although both St. aegypti and St. albopicta are potential vectors of dengue and chikungunya in different parts of India, it is highly evident that the latter species may be a major vector transmitting the dengue virus in the district. Therefore, it is important to elucidate its role in disease transmission in this region. The higher prevalence of vector St. albopicta in the adjoining states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu suggests that this species can play an alternative role for dengue transmission in the absence of St. aegypti. The species was found to be a potential vector for dengue in Western Ghats foothills and then can be spread to the adjoining areas[46]. The slow shrinking of forested areas due to the substitution of cash crops such as rubber and palm is also one of the reasons why dengue vectors flourished in rural areas from their original forest area[47].

Abundant rainfall that creates a lot of natural and domestic temporary water bodies combined with tropical temperatures and a high relative humidity account for mosquito breeding in the study area throughout the year. The district authorities have implemented several vector control programs by preventing mosquito breeding near construction sites, by clearing the accumulated water in apartments by spraying larvicidal oil in water-stagnant places and fogging operations. Despite anti-malaria and other vector control drives practiced in the district, the cases of mosquito-borne diseases have not been controlled. This further highlights the fact that water bodies mainly associated with human habitation like water tanks, drums, artificial containers in the district must be properly managed by constant monitoring programs for the occurrence of vector species. While it is quite difficult to carry out anti-larval operations in rural areas, community awareness of proper maintenance of water bodies in both agricultural farms and residential areas can help in controlling the mosquito population and thus facilitate the attainment of very low levels of mosquito-borne diseases.

Conflict of interest: None[48]

  Acknowledgements Top

The authors are grateful to Mangalore University for providing the necessary laboratory facilities to undertake this research work. The authors would like to sincerely thank Director, ICMR-VCRC, Puducherry and Dr. P. Philip Samuel, ICMR, Field Station, Madurai for providing mosquito Identification facility. We also would like to extend our gratitude to the Principal, Vivekananda College, Puttur for infrastructural facilities to carry out this work.

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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