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Table 1 Summary of characteristics of compounds used as larvicides

From: Implementing a larviciding efficacy or effectiveness control intervention against malaria vectors: key parameters for success

Larvicides Mode of action Advantages Limitations Residual effect
Bacterial larvicides Induce the formation in larval midgut of a toxic pore that kill the mosquito by interrupting feeding and homeostasis Harmless to most aquatic non-target organisms and humans, effective against insecticide resistant mosquitoes Previous formulations had limited residual effect, require larvae to feed on, not active on late instar larvae and pupae 2 weeks previous formulations/up to 6 months for new formulations
Spinosyns Toxic after ingestion and neurotoxic effect (bind to GABA and the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and stop the normal transmission of nerve impulse and induce insect death). Efficient against a large spectrum of species safe to non-target organisms, effective against insecticide resistant mosquitoes Also used in agricultural, limited residual effect requiring frequent re-treatments Short (1 to 3 weeks)
Petroleum products Direct toxicity after ingestion or by contact reducing the mobility and prevent larvae from breathing causing suffocation and larval death Control all mosquitoes, cheaper, easy to acquire, mosquito cannot develop resistance to the compound Toxic to non-target species, frequent retreatment required, can be dispersed by wind, rain, vegetation or animals Short (1 to 3 week)
Monomolecular surface films (MMF) Prevent larvae from breathing and induce suffocation and larval death Biodegradable, spread spontaneously over large water surface, safe to non-target organisms, mosquito cannot develop resistance to the compound Can be dispersed by wind, rain, vegetation or animals Short (up to 1 week)
Insect growth regulators Prevent the development of larvae to adults or kill larvae when moulting Efficient against several mosquito species, long residual effect, effective at low dosage, effective against insecticide resistant mosquitoes Difficult to monitor if sites have been treated or not, toxic for non-target aquatic organisms Long (3 to 6 months)
Essential oils and plant extracts Toxic after ingestion or growth inhibiting effects New compounds, could improve control of resistant mosquitoes Not well characterised, no efficacy trial conducted, difficult to produce large quantities Short
Synthetic chemicals Neurotoxic compounds which kill insects by blocking the normal transmission of nerve impulses Easy to implement, effective in polluted habitats Can select for insecticide resistance, harmful to non-target organisms, frequent re-treatment required, only organophosphates approved for larval control Long (several weeks)