Hillsborough County working to lower mosquito population this summer

Living Local

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- Grab the bug spray! Mosquito season is upon us and Hillsborough County Mosquito Management crews are using chickens, fish, and technology to help lower the pesky population.

Crews have been monitoring 35 different breeds of mosquitos that can be found throughout the county.

Around 10 flocks of sentinel chickens are strategically located out in the community to help researchers detect mosquito-borne diseases.

“The mosquito virus can be anywhere at any time and the idea is to find that virus before it finds us,” Hillsborough County Mosquito Management’s Leonard Burns said.

The chickens’ blood is tested periodically to look for West Nile virus antibodies, St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and Highlands J virus.

Management crews also use helicopters to spray affected areas with crushed corn cob that has been treated with BTI. BTI is a bacteria found in soil that kills mosquito larvae when eaten.

“It’s naturally occurring,” Hillsborough County Mosquito Management Chief Pilot Brian Gentry said. “Doesn’t harm fish, doesn’t harm any invertebrates in the water,”

Gentry also said he can treat around 100 acres of land in about 10 minutes while up in the helicopter.

You can also tackle the mosquito population in your own backyard by using free fish provided by the county that eat up mosquito larvae.

“Between 10 to 12 in a bag per household. All will be pregnant, they’ll give birth to about 10 per fish so essentially it’s about 100 fish that we give out,” Hillsborough County Mosquito Management’s Victor Soto said.

The fish can be placed in ponds, birdbaths, fountains, animal troughs and other standing water locations.

To find out how you can get some of the fish, you can visit Hillsborough County Mosquito Management’s website.

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