The conventional dosages of pyrethroid insecticides on mosquito nets assume that nets will be retreated at 6–12 month intervals. However, dosage should be related to washing of nets; if nets are only washed once or twice a year, their dosage requirements will be different to those
which are washed fortnightly. A ‘low-dose, frequent-wash’ retreatment system might be technically more appropriate and more affordable where nets are washed frequently, as they are in Dar es Salaam. Moreover, for use as a domestic insecticide, water-based formulations of pyrethroid
are preferable to the more commonly used emulsifiable concentrates (ECs). This paper reports laboratory evaluations of three formulations (ECs, Flowable, CS) of three pyrethroids (deltamethrin, lambdacyhalothrin, permethrin). Insecticidal activity was tested using serial bioassays at a range
of dosages using Anopheles gambiae. The water-based formulations were no less effective than the ECs, even at the lowest dosages. Nets treated with 3 mg/m2 and then repeatedly washed and retreated after each wash with either 3 mg/m2 or 1 mg/m2
were subjected to gas chromatography analysis. This showed that the amounts of pyrethroid in the nets accumulated rapidly over the first few wash-retreatment cycles and then remained fairly stable over subsequent cycles. These nets gave consistently high bioassay mortalities throughout the
experiment, while the mortality declined rapidly after several washes with the nets that were treated at 3 mg/m2 but not retreated. Experimental huts were used to compare the effectiveness of these 2 net retreatment regimes and nets which were not retreated. All nets caused
high mortality rates amongst Anopheles females, but had negligible effects on culicines; either in killing them or in preventing feeding. Therefore use of a high ‘loading’ dose for initial treatment with lower ‘maintenance’ doses for retreatment may be preferable
to ensure that net users promptly perceive the benefits of the insecticide against culicines.