BACKGROUND: Frequent, sensitive and accurate sampling of Anopheles mosquitoes is a prerequisite for effective management of malaria vector control programmes. The most reliable existing means to measure mosquito density is the human landing catch (HLC). However, the HLC technique raises major ethical concerns because of the necessity to expose humans to vectors of malaria and a variety of other pathogens. Furthermore, it is a very arduous undertaking that requires intense supervision, which is severely limiting in terms of affordability and sustainability. METHODS: A community-based, mosquito sampling protocol, using the Ifakara tent trap-B (ITT-B) and standardized resting boxes (SRB), was developed and evaluated in terms of the number and sample composition of mosquitoes caught by each, compared to rigorously controlled HLC. Mosquitoes were collected once and three times every week by the HLC and the alternative methods, respectively, in the same time and location. RESULTS: Overall, the three traps caught 44,848 mosquitoes. The ITT-B, HLC and SRB caught 168, 143 and 46 Anopheles gambiae s.l. as well as 26,315, 13,258 and 4,791 Culex species respectively. The ITT-B was three- and five-times cheaper than the HLC per mosquito caught for An. gambiae and Cx. Species, respectively. Significant correlations between the numbers caught by HLC and ITT-B were observed for both An. gambiae s.l. (P < 0.001) and Cx. species (P = 0.003). Correlation between the catches with HLC and SRB were observed for Cx. species (P < 0.001) but not An. gambiae s.l. (P = 0.195), presumably because of the low density of the latter. Neither ITT-B nor SRB exhibited any obvious density dependence for sampling the two species. CONCLUSION: SRBs exhibited poor sensitivity for both mosquito taxa and are not recommended in this setting. However, this protocol is affordable and effective for routine use of the ITT-B under programmatic conditions. Nevertheless, it is recommended that the trap and the protocol be evaluated further at full programmatic scales to establish effectiveness under fully representative conditions of routine practice.