Small fish are county's newest tool for mosquito control - Tucson News Now

Small fish are county's newest tool for mosquito control

Gila Topminnows, Pima County's latest weapon in the fight against mosquitoes. (Source: Tucson News Now) Gila Topminnows, Pima County's latest weapon in the fight against mosquitoes. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

At first glance, they look like ordinary fish in a tank. But the small Gila Topminnows are Pima County Health Department's newest tool to keep pesky mosquitoes away. 

"We are the first program in the state to use an endangered species for mosquito abatement," said David Ludwig, the program manager for consumer health and food safety with the Pima County Health Department.

If the department gets a complaint of a lot of mosquitoes, they will check out the breeding grounds, whether it's a pool or other standing water.  

"Before we place the fish, we want to make sure, No. 1, are there mosquito larvae present?" Ludwig said. 

If the answer is yes, then a dozen or so of these fish are deployed. In a matter of minutes it's goodbye, mosquito larvae. 

"They'll start eating right away. It can be done in lieu of putting chemicals in that pool or putting oil on top of a pool," Ludwig said. 

These fish made their way into the tanks inside the health department from the Phoenix Zoo. 

Ludwig said another important part of this program is upping the population of these endangered fish, which are native to our state. 

"With the tanks that we have here, we're able to sustain a population," he said. "We started out with 250 in each tank and now we have upwards of 300, 350." 

Mosquitoes can carry dangerous viruses such as Zika and West Nile. 

Ludwig recommends keeping yourself protected from mosquitoes by covering up with long sleeves or pants and wearing repellent with DEET. 

Ludwig also said it's not just dusk and dawn when the mosquitoes are out. He said you should take precautions at all hours of the day. 

You should also remove any standing water. Even a small amount can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.. 

You can find more information here: http://webcms.pima.gov/health/preventive_health/disease_control/mosquitoes

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