Preparing for summer involves mosquito prevention

How property owners can get 'mosquito fish' in thier ponds to limit insect populations

The official start of summer is Saturday, June 20th and along with sunshine and heat the season brings insects – specifically mosquitoes that could hold the West Nile virus.

The Benton County Mosquito Control district has already started spreading insecticides throughout the region to stop a spreading mosquito population. In 2019, there were some mosquitoes found in Grant County and on Bateman Island in Richland with the virus. When that occurs, BCMC collects the infected mosquitoes and spreads more insecticides.

Jasmine Che, the Public Education Coordinator with the Benton County Mosquito Control district says individuals can and need to take precautions against the West Nile virus as well. Animal owners should ensure their horses and other animals have the virus vaccine.

“You know, we hope that horses are vacinated,” Che said, “If they aren’t and you are noticing any symptoms like they may be showing a fever, muscle weakness, loss of appetite. It’s important you call your local vet and you make sure to get them tested to make sure they aren’t infected.”

BCMC offers several guidelines and tools for animal owners on their website.

Che says to also be cautious of birds. They are one of the main animals to contract the virus from mosquitoes. If you find a dead bird in your yard or around you neighborhood, she says to always use gloves when disposing it.

“If the bird doesn’t show any signs of why it died,” Che said, “it’s not required, but you can call your county health department to let them know the bird could have died from West Nile.”

People should also use misquito repelant when they are out hiking, camping, or in an area around water. Misquitoes are attracted to sitting water and lay eggs there – causing the population to rise. Che says after rainfall property owners should get any sitting water dumped to avoid attracting the insect. If a population does accumilate though, people can call BCMC for assistance.

“They are called mosquito fish,” Che said, “We can put them in little fountains, little ponds like those. They help to reduce the populations in ponds or pools so if you have any of those you can give us a call and we can send someone out to deliver mosquito fish and place them in those ponds and they will help reduce the populations.”

The Gambusia fish, commonly known for their ability to eat mosquitoes, live in fresh water and can live up to two years. They are small, about 2 to 3 inches in size and can control the mosquito population on your property.