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Officials stock swimming pools with fish

MIAMI -- Wary of a big mosquito season this spring and summer, control officers are stocking abandoned swimming pools in hurricane- ravaged south Dade County with little fish that feast on mosquito larvae.

The 1- and 2-inch fish are called Gambusia affinis, or more commonly, 'mosquito fish.'

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Hundreds of back yard pools in the area have been abandoned by owners who have left their homes, temporarily or permanently, damaged by Hurricane Andrew Aug. 24.

The Dade County Mosquito Control Department's 18 inspectors make their first stop every morning at a canal where they net a bucket full of the guppy-like fish.

The inspectors then scoop some water out of the pools, which are often little more than stagnant pits of green ooze and water, perfect for breeding mosquitoes.

The inspectors look into the scoop to spot the mosquito eggs.

'The larvae is pretty easy to see,' said Stan Ochmanski, the county's assistant director of public works.

If larvae are spotted, the inspectors dump the fish into the pool.

'They just eat them up,' Ochmanski said.

Normally, owners of infested pool water are fined $200.

'But in this case, because there are so many abandoned and ruined homes in aouth Dade, we're trying to help them solve the problem,' Ochmanski said.

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