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ABC News: Foreclosure fallout: Public health threat (May 21, 2008)
California using fish to fight the spread of mosquitos in abandoned swimming pools

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Thousands of sprawling ranch homes stand unoccupied, along with thousands of now stagnant swimming pools. And a nasty unforeseen consequence of the housing downturn has bubbled to the surface in those pools: mosquitoes.

Cue in Chris, the syntax-impaired biologist (or maybe it's Laura, the transcription-impaired journalist that's to blame for the garbled sentence)
"Pools, when they aren't maintained, there are nutrients in the water and you get the sun producing energy and the mosquitoes will use the bacteria or the energy to produce," said Chris Miller, a biologist with the Contra Costa Mosquito Vector and Control District.

But these mosquitoes are not just a mere nuisance, they're also potentially dangerous.

"They transmit West Nile virus," said Miller, "and that is why we are so concerned with these pools and the foreclosure issue. It can be a real threat to public health."

They are using a "mosquito fish"  called gambusia to control the mosquitos.

However, there is little evidence that gambusia is especially effective as a "mosquito fish" and, out of its native environment, it's considered a pest.

Gambusias have traditionally been referred to as mosquitofish based on the assumption they are ideal for mosquito larvae control. While we prefer to retain gambusia in the title to this page (since this allows for world wide understanding), we would like to suggest adoption of a more suitable name for these species outside their natural range, damnbusia. This is not an effort to damn this poor innocent fish, but to inform the masses that this species can be a major pest and in many cases more suitable alternatives exist for mosquito larvae control. Hence we feel the name is far more educational and valuable than the misnomer of mosquitofish.

Many people ask what should we use for mosquito control if we can't use mosquitofish? Pretty much any fish will eat mosquito larvae. Try finding a mosquito larvae in any body of water inhabited by fish. The best thing to use is a native fish found in your local area that is somewhat hardy and will reproduce in the environment that requires mosquito control. Which species this is will totally depend upon where in the world you live, but most parts of the world have suitable species that probably already exist in your vicinity. And please stick to using fish from your local river basin, rather than the same or similar species brought in from outside your local river basin as significant differences often exist between populations from different river basins.

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Gambusia holbrooki and G. affinis (Cyprinodontiformes: Poeciliidae) are native to southern and eastern USA, but now (following translocation) have an extensive global distribution. Where mosquito-borne diseases pose a threat to human health, and native fish are not suitable control agents (such as urban areas in Thailand and Venezuela) stocking water bodies with poeciliids (such as gambusia and guppies Lebistes reticulatus) may be one of the few means of mosquito control. These poeciliids are well-suited to stagnant waters, where they tend to remain stationary just below the water surface, using the relatively oxygen-rich interface layer. However, the effectiveness of gambusia as a mosquito control agent is unclear. Gambusia may prefer to consume macro-invertebrates other than mosquito larvae (particularly large instars). Some of these macro-invertebrates consumed may include species which also prey on mosquito larvae. Gambusia, not having the aestivation/embryonic diapause capability of some Cyprinodontiformes, die out in seasonal ponds, requiring a restocking program. In any event, the larvae of many mosquito species develop in rain-filled tree hollows and peridomestic containers, such as coconut shells and discarded packaging, concealed from vertebrate predators.

I guess in a swimming pool most of these problems will not pose themselves - the problem is gambusia escaping from the pool through the drains and following the sewers to the local river basin.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 31st, 2008 at 04:19:42 AM EST
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