Competitiveness of released males in genetic control programmes is of critical importance. In this paper, we explored two scenarios to compensate for the loss of mating competitiveness after pupal stage irradiation in males of the malaria mosquito Anopheles arabiensis. First, competition experiments with a higher ratio of irradiated versus un-irradiated males were performed. Second, pupae were irradiated just prior to emergence and male mating competitiveness was determined.
Males were irradiated in the pupal stage with a partially or fully-sterilizing dose of 70 or 120 Gy, respectively. Pupae were irradiated aged 20–26 h (young) as routinely performed, or the pupal stage was artificially prolonged by cooling and pupae were irradiated aged 42–48 h (old). Irradiated males competed at a ratio of 3:1:1 to un-irradiated males for mates in a large cage design.
At the 3:1 ratio, the number of females inseminated by males irradiated with 70 Gy as young pupae was similar to the number inseminated by un-irradiated males for the majority of the replicates. At 120 Gy, significantly fewer females were inseminated by irradiated than by un-irradiated males. The irradiation of older pupae did not result in a significantly improved male mating competitiveness compared to the irradiation of young pupae.
Our findings indicate that the loss of competitiveness after pupal stage irradiation can be compensated for by a threefold increase of irradiated males, but only for the partially-sterilizing dose. In addition, cooling might be a useful tool to facilitate handling processes of large numbers of mosquitoes in genetic control programmes.