Abstract During desert locust plagues large amounts of insecticides are used for control operations. Drift from these treatments and accidental overspraying may contaminate small surface waters such as temporary ponds. The present study describes methods for static acute toxicity tests with two abundant organisms that occur in temporary ponds in the African Sahel region: the fairy shrimp Streptocephalus sudanicus Daday (Branchiopoda, Anostraca, Streptocephalidae) and the backswimmer Anisops sardeus Herrich-Schåffer (Hemiptera, Notonectidae). The organisms were captured in the field and 48-h static toxicity tests were conducted in the laboratory. The assays were used to screen the toxicity of 11 formulated synthetic insecticides used in desert locust control and of spores of the mycopesticide Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum. Most of the synthetic insecticides tested were highly toxic to both organisms (LC 50 or EC 50<1 mg/L). Exceptions were the toxicity of diflubenzuron to A. sardeus (moderately toxic: 1<LC 50<10 mg/L), and that of fenitrothion (moderately toxic) and malathion (slightly toxic: 10<EC 50<100 mg/L) to S. sudanicus. M. anisopliae var. acridum was moderately toxic to S. sudanicus and only slightly toxic to A. sardeus. EC 50 values of the insecticides for S. sudanicus were not significantly correlated with L(E)C 50 values for Daphnia magna collected from the literature. For A. sardeus a significant correlation with D. magna was found, but even in this data set the two species had widely differing sensitivities to some insecticides.