By Jason Allen

HURST (CBS 11 NEWS) – It can kill 100 mosquito larvae a day, spreads out on its own and costs just a few cents to deploy. A regular tool used to fight mosquitos in Tarrant County, however, is in limited supply this year during the worst outbreak of West Nile virus North Texas has ever seen.

The Gambusia Minnow, also called the mosquito fish, has been a consistent tool offered by the Tarrant County Mosquito Surveillance Program since at least 2005. Participating cities can request the minnows free of charge. This year, however,  some cities have not been able to get them. Others are on a waiting list. Tarrant County Public Health blamed construction at the Eagle Mountain Fish Hatchery for the limited supply.

The hatchery is a series of rectangular ponds on the south end of the lake, owned by the Tarrant Regional Water District. It is largely unused except under a lease to TCU which uses it for research. The county has kept minnows in concrete holding ponds, but spokesman Vanassa Joseph said construction had limited this year’s supply.

Thursday, large piles of dirt were visible beside two concrete enclosures. The TRWD told CBS 11 News there was regularly scheduled maintenance at the facility that happens every summer at about the same time. Joseph would not specify how the work cut into the minnow supply.

Joseph said three cities have requests in for minnows and that Tarrant County was taking requests on a first come first serve basis. She said crews would return to the site next week to see if any more fish had developed.

In an emailed response to questions about increasing the minnow supply due to West Nile, Joseph said cities and residents could find commercial suppliers on the web.

The City of Hurst said in past summers it has often requested 50 to 80 fish at a time. It drops them in abandoned pools and retention ponds. It has an aquarium in the lobby of its public works building that is used to keep the fish. This year it’s empty.

Keller Fish Farm in Haltom City stocks the Gambusia Minnows and recommends them to all of its customers with ponds. It keeps the fish in all its outdoor ponds, and said it has no issues with mosquitos because of it.

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