Hillsborough County is giving out free mosquito-eating fish at events scheduled from August through September.

By Laura Tamayo

This summer, seven events across Hillsborough County, including South and Eastern Hillsborough County, are being held by the county’s Mosquito Management Services in which anyone can pick up free fish that fight against mosquito overpopulation.

This program has been successfully held each summer since 2016, allowing for the residents of the area to secure an effective way to control the spread of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

Mosquitofish are native to Florida and, due to their minuscule size, can reach mosquito larvae in any region of the pond, consuming up to 200 a day.

“They are able to get into places where the bigger fish don’t tend to go, because they can’t access it,” explained Chris Wilkerson, senior media relations strategist of Hillsborough County Mosquito Management.

Mosquitofish do not require much special care, in exception to overall protection from certain toxic chemicals like chlorine. Each resident who picks up mosquitofish will receive a card that explains the background of the mosquitofish and how to handle them.

Hillsborough County Mosquito Management Services currently receives these fish from a local fish hatchery, but Mary Geesey, project coordinator of the organization, has expressed its desire to begin its own sustainable hatchery and become a completely sustainable operation by the end of 2020.

The pickup events will occur on Saturday, August 8, August 22, September 12 and September 26 with locations varying depending on the date. These locations can be found on Hillsborough County website’s calendar.

The fish will be available from 9 a.m. to 12 Noon each date and in order to receive them, residents must take a photo ID that confirms Hillsborough residency.

Due to COVID-19, the usual activities that one might see at these events have been cancelled and social distancing guidelines are being followed.

“Unfortunately, we have to minimize contact and be less interactive, so this has become a drive-through,” detailed Geesey.

Make sure to pass by before September 26 to get your free mosquitofish and wear a mask.

For more information, visit hillsboroughcounty.org, head to the calendar, find a date mentioned above and click on the ‘Fight Mosquitoes with Free Fish’ event.

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