'Mosquito Fish' Giveaway Aims To Help Prevent Zika

May 26, 2017
Originally published on May 26, 2017 8:09 am

Mosquito fish are 2.5-inch long native, freshwater fish that love munching on mosquito hatchlings.

On Saturday, March 27, Mosquito Control officials are giving out gambusia affinis to Hillsborough County residents for free.

The giveaway, the second one so far this year, is an effort to fight mosquito-borne illnesses. More mosquitoes are born as the weather gets hotter and the summer months bring more rain. The insect lays its eggs in standing water, like birdbaths, ponds, unused swimming pools, and even tires.

Mosquito fish, as they’re commonly called, eat several species of mosquitoes that can transmit illnesses likes Zika virus, 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 complements other efforts to control mosquito-borne illnesses, like a new computer mapping system that shows the entire county in real-time detail. 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.

The event is being held at the Tampa Bay Regional Public Library from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., or until the fish are all gone.

Mosquito Control will be doing more giveaways at various locations around the county through the summer. The next one is scheduled for June 10.

Find more events here. Read more about mosquito control efforts and how you can prevent them here.

Florida Matters wants to hear from you. As summer approaches, please share your questions and concerns about how you can prepare for the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses  for an upcoming episode. Call 813-396-WUSF or email FloridaMatters@wusf.org to join the conversation.