Minnows to Help Control Mosquito Breeding

In Maricopa County, Arizona, people have found a unique way to prevent mosquito numbers and the chances of getting the West Nile virus from growing.

For the homeowners of Maricopa County, the prevention is better than cure. That is why they are taking steps in stopping "green pools" from becoming breeding grounds of mosquitoes. In Maricopa County, there has only been one human WNV case reported and they do not wish to add to that.

They are happy to share their secret weapon: a fish called S.S. Minnows. These fish are natives of South America. But what is so important about these Minnows? Minnows actually are mosquito-eating fish. They prefer to feed on mosquito larvae and those little squirmy things on top of the water. Maricopa county owners are having these mosquito killers guard their swimming pools and other bodies of water.

John Townsend from the County Vector Control Program says that homeowners not only get these Minnows for their own properties but also for abandoned houses or swimming pools in their neighborhood. Townsend adds that homeowners `want to either have us (people from the County Vector Control Program) come out and put the fish in or they want to swing by and get some and put them in there themselves." In addition these fish are free from vector control.

What is Vector Control: Vector Control staff investigates citizen complaints dealing with mosquitoes, flies and non-native rodents. They also enforce and ensure compliance of the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code.

Vector Control inspectors identify routine breeding sites and apply the appropriate treatments. They also perform surveillance activities in their "districts" to identify new or potential breeding sites. They also work in conjunction with State officials in monitoring and testing of mosquito samples that are collected on a monthly basis and tested for arboviruses.

The Vector Control office also provides mosquito eating fish (Gambusia) free to the public, for use in ponds, stock tanks, or any permanent waters a homeowner may have. We also try to educate individuals and citizen groups on mosquito reducing techniques they can use around their home or property to eliminate mosquito breeding. We do this through the use of pamphlets, neighborhood meetings and presentations.

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