In the war on mosquitoes, Gloucester County’s soldiers are barely larger than your thumb.
Thousands of Gambusia Affinis—otherwise known as the mosquitofish—and fathead minnows are destined for retention ponds around the county, in an effort to knock down a mosquito population that could explode after a mild winter.
And in the brackish, leaf-choked water of one off Grove Road in West Deptford Thursday, Freeholder Director Robert Damminger and freeholder Heather Simmons added a few buckets full of the voracious fish to the 10,000-square-foot basin as a kickoff of sorts to the season.
“We want to take these measure to minimize the impact,” Simmons said, given the prediction for a worse-than-average year for the bloodsuckers.
But even if the population explosion wasn’t a threat, the county would be releasing the fish, which come from the state Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, Damminger said, as part of preventative maintenance of a sort, given the ponds can be a breeding ground, no matter what.
“This is something we do every year,” he said.
In all, nearly 11,000 fish will be released into ponds throughout the county—including four in West Deptford—in the coming weeks, with the hope the predatory creatures will knock down the mosquito population before it can even get going.
Thanks to the mild winter, there shouldn’t be much of a hit on the county budget, either, Damminger said.
“We used some of our snow savings and moved it to mosquito control this year in anticipation of a heavy year," he said.
The freeholders also asked residents to do what they can to eliminate sources of standing water—buckets, old planters, any containers that could serve as a breeding ground—to help combat the problem.
The county also has its tire amnesty program continuing through March 30, another way of eliminating a potential breeding ground for the bugs. County residents can bring old tires to the solid waste complex in South Harrison, where they’ll be taken free of charge.