Researchers have discovered a cheap and pesticide-free way to combat mosquito populations and to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
According to the study, controlling the mosquitoes at the larval stage may be the best strategy to reduce their population.
The researchers showed that introducing hungry minnows — small freshwater fish — into bodies of water where mosquitoes breed, can dramatically decrease the number of adult mosquitoes, especially those capable of carrying the West Nile disease.
“There are many potential advantages to using indigenous fish species as an alternative for larval control including lowered environmental impact, decreased costs regarding time and financial inputs, and the potential for the establishment of self-sustaining fish populations,” said Brad Fedy from the University of Waterloo, Canada.
In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the team introduced minnow fish into ten treatment reservoirs and also monitored an additional six non-treated reservoirs.
The findings showed that treatment ponds suppressed levels of mosquito larva over each season compared to controls with a model-predicted 114 per cent decrease in larva density within treatment ponds.
The results may also be used to improve human health.
“This isn’t a complete solution to the dangers of West Nile, but it should be considered as part of any plan to protect the health of vulnerable populations,” Fedy added.