Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wild Fact: Mosquitofish

Native to the Southeast but stocked elsewhere, mosquitofish are also known by their genus name, Gambusia. These live bearers resemble guppies, with males and females only reaching 1½ and 2½ inches long respectively. To protect themselves from big fish, mosquitofish hide in vegetation along pond edges. In these same areas, pesky mosquitoes lay eggs that hatch out into tiny, worm-like larvae. Surviving larvae turn into flying mosquitoes, but most get gobbled up before reaching adulthood. True to its name, one mosquitofish eats hundreds of larvae each day. A decrease in mosquito numbers means fewer itchy bites and fewer West Nile Virus cases.

WILD Fact is a new regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.