The Western Mosquitofish, also known a bit ambiguously as the mosquitofish, or it’s common name gambezi, are small freshwater fish with the largest growing to about three inches in length, and they get their nickname from their diet sometimes consisting of large numbers of mosquito larvae, at least relative to their body size.
On may twenty seventh, Mosquito Control officials gave out the fish to HIllsborough County residents for free. The giveaway, the second one this year of it’s like, is an effort to fight mosquito-borne illnesses. More mosquitos are born and hatched as the weather gets hotter and muggier as this early summer has been, and with all of the extra rain more chances are there for the mosquitos to leg eggs in standing water, like birdbaths, ponds, and underused swimming pools or abandoned tires.
The mosquito fish is known to eat several species of mosquitoes that transmit illnesses like the Zika virus, the West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, and Eastern equine encephalitis. The fish require no feeding, and care is limited to protecting them from garden sprays, chlorine, or other chemicals used for cleaning. Mosquito fish do not lay eggs and need no special environment for breeding.
The giveaway was deployed alongside other efforts to control the mosquito-borne illnesses that are plauging the state, like the new computer mapping system that allows the entire county to be mapped in real-time. The Mosquito Analytics and Response System helps the agency identify and manage areas frequented by the insects.
Mosquito Control, according to their website, “stresses prevention over reaction, meaning it much prefers to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and larvae rather than spray insecticide that kills adult mosquitoes. The mapping software, which shows every report of mosquitoes or their larvae submitted to the County, allows Mosquito Control to monitor each of those sites, spot trends, and eliminate insects before they hatch.”
In its first month of use, Mosquito Control plotted more than 1,800 larvae production sites.
For the giveaway, residents, including those in unincorporated Hillsborough County, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, and at MacDill Air Force Base, must bring a photo ID showing their local address to receive fish.
Mosquito Control will be doing more giveaways at various locations around the county through the summer