By Pauline Derry
Although summer is a season full of beach trips, campfires and relaxing, most can agree that a downside to the hot weather is the uproar of mosquito populations.
To combat this, having started since May 22, Mosquito Management Services is holding several events to give away free fish to residents in Hillsborough County to help reduce mosquito overpopulation.
Mosquitofish are small, freshwater fish, native to Florida that eat mosquito larvae before they reach adulthood. One fish alone can eat up to an estimated several hundred larvae in just one day. They are most useful for residents with intentional standing water, such as ponds, rain barrels, livestock troughs and even koi fish ponds, where the small mosquitofish can access areas that bigger fish can’t.
“The fish do all the work and the residents swear by them,” said Chris Wilkerson, senior media relations strategist of Hillsborough County Mosquito Management.
The fish require little to no care, only needing to be protected from chemicals such as garden sprays and chlorine. Once you collect the fish and place them in the water, your work is done.
This year, a new mosquitofish hatchery facility was built to promote even healthier fish for distribution. Both the lifespan of the fish as well as the sustainability of the operation will be increased because of this.
Every other Saturday until late September, there will be events held from 8 a.m. until 12 Noon for residents to pick up a free bag of fish. Due to COVID-19, all events will be drive-through only, and you can’t leave your car. The next closest event will be on Saturday, July 24 at the SouthShore Regional Library in Ruskin.
To be eligible to receive fish, you must bring an ID to the event that proves you live in Hillsborough County before continuing to the next station where you will collect your fish.
There are limited quantities of mosquitofish and they are only available while supplies last, so make sure you stop by an event to get your fish before it’s too late.
For more information, visit hillsboroughcounty.org and view the calendar, where you will find upcoming events.