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Westchester County Offering Free Fish To Help Control Mosquito Population

Fathead Minnows Used To Rid Ponds Of Larvae, Said To Be Highly Effective

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NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Health officials in Westchester County want to use some little fish in the battle against mosquitoes.

The Westchester County Health Department is giving away fathead minnows for residents to use in ornamental ponds, which could become breeding sites for mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus.

The minnows like to eat the larvae and pupae from the mosquito, which like to breed in standing water. Health officials said the fish have been effective in controlling mosquito populations in county parks.

“There are a lot of studies out there that show this is a very viable way, an organic way to control mosquito populations in your county without using additional pesticides,” Assistant Health Commissioner Peter Delucia told WCBS 880′s Sean Adams

Health officials said the minnows should be used only in ponds where the water is at least 8 to 12 inches deep.

“It definitely decreases the mosquito population because these fish are hungry and they’re going to eat the larvae. People like to have water around, so the geographic location could be anywhere from the Bronx border all the way up to North Salem and the border with Putnam County,” Delucia told CBS 2′s Lou Young.

“As soon as you get them in there where the larvae are, they’re going to chow down,” Delucia added.

The county insisted that the fish aren’t pets, and that the science is sound and the cost is moderate. The entire program costs a little more than $1,000, Young reported.

The county has 100 pounds of fathead minnows to give away Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“From what I was told that’s about 35,000 fish,” the health department’s John Ruggerio told CBS 2′s Young.

The fish are being distributed at Building One at the Westchester County Airport, 2 Loop Road off Airport Road.

For more information, visit health.westchestergov.com.