Innovative Mosquito Solution: County Health Department Offers Free Minnows to Residents
In a public statement released Tuesday, May 7, Westchester County announced it is doing something a bit unusual this season to help minnow-mize your chances of becoming infected with West Nile Virus. The Health Department will offer free live fathead minnows to residents on Friday and Saturday (May 10 and 11) that will help prevent their ornamental ponds from becoming breeding sites for mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus.
“I hope residents will take advantage of this opportunity to help us curtail the mosquito population,” said Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD. “This is a natural strategy that has proven effective in county parks and in other jurisdictions, so we want Westchester residents to share this benefit.”
The minnows reduce the mosquito population because they feed on mosquito larvae and pupae before they emerge into adult mosquitoes. They are well suited to ornamental ponds and can help reduce the spread of West Nile Virus because culex pipiens, the mosquito that can be a carrier of West Nile Virus, breeds in standing water, such as ponds and containers. They should be released in ponds that have a minimum of eight to twelve inches of water.
The county has 100 pounds of fathead minnows to distribute Friday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Residents who want the minnows should go to 2 Loop Road, Building One at the Westchester County Airport. The building is the first right from the airport access road.
To eliminate breeding sites for mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus, the Westchester County Department of Health will begin its annual West Nile Virus prevention efforts by checking catch basins throughout the county for standing water and applying larvicide as needed starting Monday, May 13.
Health department larviciding teams started in the northern part of the county and will work their way south, evaluating and treating as needed all catch basins on county and municipal roads throughout the county over the next few months.
To help prevent mosquitoes from breeding, residents should eliminate standing water from around their properties, especially after it rains. Large areas of standing water on public property that cannot easily be removed should be reported to the Health Department by calling 914-813-5000.
“Through the combined efforts of residents and county government, we can successfully curb the mosquito population and keep cases of West Nile Virus to a minimum,” Dr. Amler said “Please survey your property routinely and empty standing water from any discarded tires, unchlorinated swimming pools, outdoor pottery, pails, birdbaths or other containers throughout the spring and summer.”