Anopheles funestus

Anopheles funestus


Anopheles funestus has a wide geographic distribution, extending throughout Africa where is one of the most important vectors of malaria.


A typical An. funestus larval habitat is a large, permanent or semi-permanent body of fresh water with emergent vegetation, such as swamps, large ponds and lake edges. Larvae have been found in shaded and sunlit environments where An. funestus may use emergent vegetation as refuge against predation while the shading it casts, or the presence of shade from overhanging plants, is of lesser importance. In some areas, An. funestus larvae are associated with rice cultivation (e.g. Madagascar, Mali) and replaces An. arabiensis in a successive temporal process during rice plant growth, exhibiting higher densities in older, maturing fields compared to the preceding open conditions preferred by An. arabiensis. An. funestus is a highly adaptable species, allowing it to occupy and maintain its wide distribution and utilise and conform to the many habitat types and climatic conditions contained therein.

Resting and feeding preferences

An. funestus is considered to be highly anthropophilic. Behaviourally, its late-night biting patterns potentially allows ready access to human blood without incurring undue density-dependant host avoidance. This late-night biting preference is clearly evident throughout its range, with peak biting period generally occurring after 22:00, commonly between midnight and the early hours of the morning. Endophilic resting behaviour is also commonly reported, allowing successful vector control using indoor residual spraying and insecticide-treated nets. However, insecticide exposure has resulted in selection pressure and rapid development of insecticide resistance to pyrethroids, now well established in some populations. Compared to other dominant vector species in Africa, An. funestus shows fairly consistent behaviour (generally anthropophilic and endophilic) throughout its range but some behavioural differences have been reported. For example, anthropophilic behaviour has been found in western Senegal and zoophilic behaviour in the east of the country.

Vectorial capacity

An. funestus is regarded as an important vector of malaria. The endophilic resting behaviour of An. funestus combined with a relatively high longevity, makes it as good a vector, or better in some areas, as An. gambiae. Insecticide resistance to pyrethroids, now well established in some An. funestus populations, has been implicated as the primary reason for a major resurgence of epidemic malaria reported in Kwazulu- Natal, South Africa in the late 1990s.

This text was modified from Sinka ME et al. (2010) The dominant Anopheles vectors of human malaria in Africa, Europe and the Middle East: occurrence data, distribution maps and bionomic précis Parasites & Vectors 3:117.

Strains, genome assemblies and gene sets