York County using fish to combat mosquito problems

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jul 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-22 22:10:15-04

York County, Va. - It seems like mosquitoes are everywhere this time of year.

Insect repellents can help guard against the pest, but officials in one Hampton Roads community are using tiny fish to take a bite out of the bugs.

Elizabeth Hodson is a biologist at the York County Mosquito Control.

And there in the fishery, guppy-like fish called the Gambusia Holbrooki, or mosquito fish, are bred to help reduce mosquito numbers in the county.

“They’re voracious when it comes to just gobbling them up,” Hodson says.  “Their mouth is positioned high up on their head, not on top of their head, but a little higher than most fish so they can actually surface feed, which is great for mosquito larvae because they hang out on the surface."

Officials in York County have sprayed for mosquitoes for years. But they’ve also had a mosquito fish program since the 1980s where they stock ornamental and storm water retention ponds, and anywhere mosquitoes can breed, all for free for York County residents just by giving them a call.

It’s the only program of its type in Virginia.

NewsChannel 3 went along with mosquito control as workers used a net to transfer a few fish living and breeding in a Yorktown retention pond into a bucket.

And then it was off to a residential pond across town to stock mosquito fish in it for the very first time.

Chris Nielsen, who lives near the pond, knows how important it is to stay protected from mosquitoes. The county stocked the mosquito fish in his backyard pond last year.

“I`ve never seen the little wiggly mosquitoes forming in the water like you so often do. So I`m assuming that the mosquitoes that lay eggs there, they`re quickly gobbled up,” he says.

The mosquito fish program is just an alternative to fighting against the pest.

In fact, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says on its website that mosquitoes cannot be completely eliminated by any control method.


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