Mosquito-Eating Fish Among This Year's Effort To 'Fight the Bite'
This year, Miami-Dade County's arsenal of mosquito-fighting technology includes traps, spraying backpacks -- and mosquito-eating fish.
The fish, each about the size of a paperclip, are called gambusia.
"The best treatment for any mosquitoes is killing the larvae. Preventing the larvae from emerging as adults," said Bill Petrie, the county's mosquito control director. "These fish, they just love to eat mosquito larvae. They'll eat them all day long."
On Friday, Miami-Dade's Mosquito Control Division spokesman Michael Mut and several representatives of the county's mosquito control efforts manned a table at the Stephen P. Clark Center and showed off the fish.
"We're giving residents the opportunity to see what we do up close," said Mut.
Other recent efforts include a family festival and coloring books to help kids help themselves avoid itchy bites from mosquitoes that can also carry diseases.
Petrie said the fish are native to Florida and can be found in canals around Miami-Dade. County employees collect them and put them in abandoned swimming pools and other areas with standing water. That's in addition to traps and trucks that spray an organic, naturally occurring larvicide called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). In January, the county also began releasing mosquitoes infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia, which prevents the mosquitoes' offspring from reaching maturity.
So far the county has not done any aerial spraying for adult mosquitoes, a practice that's come under fire from people worried about pesticide exposure.
Petrie said that's thanks in part to efforts that keep mosquito larvae from growing to adulthood.
"You're preventing the problem from occuring in the first place," he said.
He added that Miami-Dade residents (and people from other South Florida counties) can help control mosquitoes by draining pools, bromeliads and other places that collect water; and by wearing insect repellent and long-sleeved clothing.