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Controlling Mosquitoes with Mosquitofish

The eastern mosquitofish is a common, native species of fish that is found as far north as New Jersey and as far west as Alabama. Here in Florida, the climate is suitable for mosquito population growth and year-round pest management efforts are conducted to reduce the population of mosquitoes. The use of native animal species, particularly fish, to reduce mosquito populations is popular in Florida and many other states.

A small pond at the University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory where thousands of eastern mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki, are grown.

There are 80 species of mosquitoes found in Florida and 3500 species found globally.  Although not all mosquitoes transmit pathogens to humans it is important to control their populations because many of them do carry pathogens that lead to public health concerns. Diseases transmitted to humans by mosquitoes include chikungunya, dengue, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile fever and encephalitis, and zika. 

One adult mosquitofish can consume up to 100 mosquito larvae a day. It doesn’t take many fish to start a viable population. We recommend 3–5 fish for small structures like rain barrels and 5–7 fish for small, backyard ornamental ponds, making sure to stock 1 or more females. For larger structures, such as unused swimming pools, we recommend 1 fish for every 20 square feet of surface.

For people living in warm humid climates mosquitoes are a common nuisance. Implementing multiple management strategies is the best way to combat public health issues associated with mosquitoes. By using native fish species that eat mosquito larvae, including eastern mosquitofish, we are able to utilize an additional tool to help alleviate those concerns.

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