ANDERSON, Calif. - Shasta Vector Control has a new fish rearing facility for raising mosquito fish.
It's in an old barn on their property which has been repurposed to house the breeding and growing pools for the mosquito fish.
The fish are about the size of a guppy and are dedicated mosquito seeking and killing machines. In bite sized form of course.
Vector officials say that just a wriggly handful of them introduced to a small back yard pond or abandoned pool will eat all the mosquito larvae, making the area safer and less itchy for those who live nearby.
The fish are self regulating in that they fill the pool in a population that is sustainable according to the unique conditions in that specific body of water. If the mosquitoes really love the area there will be more fish, but populations will fall with fewer bugs for the fish to eat.
Experts say that these fish are just as effective at capping the mosquito population as spraying chemicals and pesticides but they're cheaper because once you add the fish they reproduce and eat all the mosquitoes in the pond. That means there aren't any chemicals to breath and it's a one-time treatment.
This new facility will make it easier for Vector Control to introduce healthy fish into the control areas.
"We decided to take away a lot of the variables that were causing us problems in terms of their breeding," says District Manager Peter Bonkrude. "We can control our water quality, our water temperature. We can make sure we have enough fish when we need those fish."
It normally takes about six weeks for the fish to grow to an acceptable size to be put to work. And once they're fully grown they're very hardy fish. They can live in almost anything and are very resilient to chemicals and temperature fluctuations.
The fish will even live through the winter if their water body is deeper than about feet.
And the best part is it's free to get them. Vector Control will stop by your house with a bunch of your new slimy best friends to pop in your pool or pond for free if you live in their district.
If you want them to do a survey to see if your house is eligible for the wee fishes you can call them at 530-365-3768 or apply for a consultation/inspection at www.shastamosquito.org.
Contact your local vector control if you live outside of the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District which stretches from Castella to Cottonwood north to south and French Gulch to Viola east to west.