With West Nile virus having made it to the Las Vegas Valley for three consecutive summers, controlling the mosquito population is a priority for county officials. For 40 years, the county's choice for mosquito control has been a tiny fish that grows to less than two inches long.
"They eat anything on the surface," said Rusty Carlson with Clark County Vector Control.
"They have huge appetites. They are going to eat mosquito until they are full, until they are all gone, and they probably last longer than most chemical applications," added Chris Bramley, supervisor at Vector Control.
The county has been releasing the fish into ponds and standing bodies of water. Most end up back at the county water reclamation plant where they are captured again and used whenever needed.
According to Bramley, the fish are not only safe to use, they save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year in pest control.
"Think about the fact that right now, my budget, so mosquito abatement for the county, is about $5,000 a year because we use the fish. If we weren't using the fish at all, the programs would probably be about $30,000 a year," Bramley said.
Vector Control will have more fish to use in the future. They will be storing and breeding the fish this fall and winter at the county reclamation plant on E. Flamingo Road.
Controlling the mosquito population has helped contain West Nile virus in the county. Just 26 cases have been reported in the Valley since 2011. Three of those people died.
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