If you've spent time outside lately, you know mosquito season is already upon us. And in Southlake, city employees are using a new tool this year to try to keep the annoying and potentially dangerous pests at bay — gambusia fish.
"Anything we can do to get ahead of it, and a natural way to get ahead of it instead of insecticides, let's give it a try," Southlake emergency manager Amanda Meneses said.
Last year, the city found 10 mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile Virus, with the majority of those at a site near ponds in the Myers' Meadow subdivision. So this year, in addition to spraying and public education efforts, they have released thirty gambusia fish into the ponds.
"Try new ways to fix old problems," Meneses said.
The fish were provided by Tarrant County Public Health. For years, they've been raising thousands of gambusia fish and distributing them to cities that ask for them. The fish are native to many North Texas waterways and are considered a natural tool to combat mosquito populations because they prey on mosquito larvae before they ever mature.
"We can apply them as if they were a pesticide," said Nina Dacko, with Tarrant County Public Health's vector control department.
The fish are approximately two inches long when fully grown, but Dacko said the small creatures have real power to combat mosquito growth. She said they can be more effective than other animals that people commonly assume are mosquito predators, like bats or birds.
Dacko said that the fish can be released into any waterway where they are already present without causing environmental harm. A boost of gambusia fish can help to cut down on mosquito populations and is simply another tool to combat the insects.
"The more fish that are out there, the less mosquitoes we're hoping to have," Dacko said.
Southlake will continue to trap and test mosquitoes, monitoring their numbers to see if the fish have an impact.
"We're anxious to see what happens this year," Meneses said.