Miami Beach Might Use Bats to Eat Zika Mosquitoes
Miami is at war with the Aedes aegpyti mosquito. Although
In war, sometimes you need to get creative. And just in time for Halloween, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is proposing the city attract bats to the area in the hopes the spooky little mammals will gobble up as many mosquitoes as they can.
Rosen Gonzalez proposes the city build bat houses, which are small and look like birdhouses except with slit-shaped holes for the
The commissioner's proposed ordinance notes mixed results in using naled to kill mosquitoes and the fact that "bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitos per hour and offer an environmentally friendly approach to mosquito control."
Rosen Gonzalez did not immediately return a call to her cell phone about the plan. The city commission will debate her ordinance at this week's meeting, and if the bill passes, the city would research the best spots to place bat houses and report back by November 9.
Miami-Dade County's n
But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the chemical is vital to
After multiple rounds of aerial spraying, county officials found a new pool of Zika-positive mosquitoes September 23. Last week, Gov. Rick Scott announced a new zone of "active Zika transmission" in Little River and Little Haiti, thus renewing Miami's pesticide debate yet again.
It apparently takes a lot of calories to fly around all day, and bats basically need to gobble mosquitoes and other tiny insects at a near-constant rate to maintain their energy level. After the town of North Hempstead, New York, on Long Island, installed bat houses to fight Zika in July, New Times half-jokingly mused that an army of bats might work as a solid line of defense against mosquitoes.
Most bat scientists agree that attracting bats to a mosquito-infested area definitely won't
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Most bats are also highly sensitive to pesticides. The national group Bat Conservation International warns that aerially sprayed pesticides could kill any newly attracted bats.
But in mosquito-ravaged Florida, the idea isn't all that far-out. In 1929, real-estate developer Richard Clyde Perky built a 30-foot-tall bat house on Sugarloaf Key, near Key West, to help drive mosquitoes from the island. With the bugs gone, he hoped to turn the key into a tourist's paradise. After filling the tower with guano (bat poop) to attract the critters, he released a huge cloud of bats onto the key.
But they all just flew away, and not a single bat ever moved into the tower. It still stands empty today. (Turns out it can take bats up to a year to figure out that they can safely live inside bat houses.)
Regardless, people seem to have taken the recent suggestion to heart. After New Times published its initial piece about bat-related pest control, a middle-school Girl Scout in West Kendall, Michelle Moscoso, built three bat houses in her neighborhood as part of a scouting project.
For those who want to build bat houses on their own, the Moscoso family had one word of warning: Make sure the house faces north or south. If they face east or west, the sun will hit them, and you'll cook the bats inside.
Here's a copy of Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez's ordinance:
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