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Offbeat Mosquito-eating fish deployed on Gold Coast amid 'plague' caused by record rain

13:35  17 february  2020
13:35  17 february  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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City of Gold Coast manages an ongoing program to control mosquitoes populations on the Gold Coast . Freshwater breeding after rain can cause problems on a localised basis. Small native fish are stocked in permanent water bodies to control mosquito breeding by more natural means.

An ordinary goldfish eats mosquito larvae, decimating the flying, biting, disease-carrying pests. Mosquitoes use standing water to breed, so ponds, fountains, rain barrels and water gardens can become pest nurseries. Mosquitoes go beyond being a nuisance, they may transmit serious diseases

a close up of an animal: Gold Coast City Councillor Hermann Vorster says the number of mosquitos has reached © Provided by ABC NEWS Gold Coast City Councillor Hermann Vorster says the number of mosquitos has reached "plague proportions". (Supplied: Егор Камелев on Unsplash)

A Gold Coast Councillor says mosquitoes have "reached plague proportions" in the city, after recent record-breaking rainfall created ideal breeding conditions.

Lifestyle and Community Committee head Hermann Vorster said efforts to control breeding populations by spraying problem areas had been hampered by the wet conditions.

"It's something that we haven't had to grapple with as a city for a long while," he said.

"The ground has become so saturated that the low-lying bits of the city are now small inland puddles and lakes, creating awesome conditions for mosquitoes but terrible ones for residents.

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They attack fish , wild animals and pets. Their larvae are so ferocious they can eat small fish and tadpoles. And these massive mosquitoes are predicted to plague Florida this summer. The giant insects usually appear after significant rainstorms or floods.

“ Mosquitoes are food for lots of animals. We would still want to see studies of when birds and bats and amphibians eat these genetically modified animals,” Jaydee Hanson, a Hanson also raised the possibility that other mosquito species could still carry the Zika virus: “It doesn’t solve the problem.”

"Now we've got a city-wide problem."

Council has restarted spraying residential areas to kill adult mosquitoes after efforts were suspended during recent wet weather.

Tests reveal 'unconventional' mosquito population

Cr Vorster said council would target northern areas of the city, where most complaints were from.

"We're focusing on Helensvale and Coombabah, but we'll be working south [to] Mermaid Beach and heading west in the next few days," he said.

"We don't expect the problem to peak for another seven to 10 days due to the way mosquitoes breed — very quickly but they live very shortly."

But Cr Vorster said 60 per cent of mosquitoes captured as part of the council's testing and monitoring program were freshwater varieties.

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The likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes could be down to genes that control our body odour, a preliminary study in Plos One suggests. Researchers tested pairs of identical and non-identical twins to see how attractive they were to mosquitoes .

The disease is spread by mosquitoes and can cause severe birth defects in babies if the mother is bitten while pregnant. It is highly infectious and spreads through transmission of bodily fluids, causing a gruesome death as the whole body haemorrhages.

"We're dealing with mosquitoes breeding in unconventional locations rather than the traditional salt-marsh areas in the north where we'd normally expect our mosquitoes to come from," he said.

He said residents could also "rob mosquitoes of the opportunity to breed close to home" by emptying bird baths and removing water from underneath pot plants.

Residents with permanent water features such as fountains, ponds, or dams, can also request crimson-spotted rainbow fish, which eat mosquito larvae.

"One of the oddities of local government — we provide free fish," Cr Vorster said.

It will take fish and fog to kill mosquitoes, says expert

Emeritus Professor of Environment at Griffith University Patricia Dale said using fish to eat larvae along with other control measures could be effective.

"Fish will eat larvae, but if there are other things available they prefer them … so it's not a complete control, she said.

She said spraying salt marshes with larvae-cides to prevent adults from emerging was one method used, while councils also 'fogged' residential areas usually with machines on the back of trucks.

"That's a very fine particle that they spray into the air and it knocks down adult mosquitoes that are flying around," Professor Dale said.

"There's no evidence that it is [dangerous to humans].

"In many places fogging is the main treatment used, not in Australia, we tend to avoid fogging if we can."

But Professor Dale said mosquitoes could breed in just a couple of centimetres of water and new insecticides were needed to avoid resistance.

"One cattle poop has contained over 700 mosquito larvae," she said.

"That's 700 adults of whom around 50 per cent are female that will go and bite somebody."

B.C.: Elevated avalanche risk as next low will bring rain, strong winds, snow .
After briefly drying out for Saturday afternoon, another system will bring rain, strong winds and high-elevation snow overnight and into Sunday, increasing the avalanche threatAfter lingering showers ease off Saturday morning, B.C. will dry out for the afternoon hours but the break in precipitation will be brief. The next system is on its doorstep and will move onto the coast overnight Saturday, bringing rain and strong winds for coastal regions and Lower Mainland, along with up to 30+ cm of snow in the alpine regions. As a result, there is a slightly elevated threat for avalanches in the mountain passes. The wet weather will continue through Sunday.

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