The Foreclosure Fish Takes Over California

The mortgage crisis is not only wrecking peoples' lives, it's not doing much good for the environment, either. The swimming pools of abandoned homes are perfect mosquito breeding grounds, there are worries about rampant West Nile Virus infections. In California, authorities are using airplanes to find green pools and are filling them with the Gambusia affinis, or mosquito fish, which eats the larvae.

"They are real heroes," says Josefa Cabada, a technician at the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, a government agency, in the Wall Street Journal. "I've never seen a mosquito in a pool with mosquito fish."

It has even been nicknamed the Foreclosure Fish. There is just one small problem....

According to Debora MacKenzie in the New Scientist, these fish (Gambusia species) are native to streams around the Gulf of Mexico. Outside their ancestral waters, they wreak havoc with local wildlife.

"In Europe, the fish developed a taste for everything but mosquito larvae, and have displaced native fish. In Australia Gambusia caused extinctions of native fish and amphibians. In California they have decimated native species - yet civic authorities will give you a bag of them free if you have a mosquito problem. It may not seem risky putting them in a plastic and concrete pool, but the fish are champion escape artists, and can travel in as little as three millimeters of water."

Perhaps a better approach might be to find a solution that puts people in these houses.

More Treehugger on the mortgage crisis:
Is America's Suburban Dream Collapsing?
Big Steps In Building: Survival, Not Suburbs

Tags: California