Bat houses combat mosquito problem organically

By Julie Broughton, Weather
Published On: Sep 04 2012 06:19:48 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 04 2012 07:48:56 PM EDT

Could attracting bats to your yard cut down on bugs? Experts says bats are the perfect "organic pest control."

ORLANDO, Fla. -

With mosquitoes swarming and concerns of West Nile Virus on the rise, the popularity of bat houses is also on the rise. 

According to Tim Walsh from the Orlando Science Center, Central Florida is home to 13 species of bats.  The most common is the small brown bat, which can eat about 1,000 mosquito-sized insects per hour.  He calls them the "perfect organic pesticide."

"A lot of the pesticides and herbicides around the world have been shown to be endocrine disrupters.  They act as environmental estrogens and change the sex of frogs," Walsh said.

If you do decide to build a bat house, he recommends placing it on your house in an area that gets a lot of morning sun.  Do not put the house on a tree, he says.

"A tree allows too many predators likes snakes and rats.  A pole works well because it's too smooth for most predators to come up," Walsh said.

Also key, he says, is the size.  The slats need to be close together because bats like small crevices and need to be close to each other to regulate their body heat.  He suggests buying a kit commercially or using plans you can find online.

Coming up later this month, the Central Florida Zoo is having a "Build Your Own Bat House" workshop.  The cost is $25.

Walsh says although bats have a bad reputation, only 1 percent of the population is infected with rabies, so they pose no danger.  He says if you do build a bat house, be patient, it can take several months to attract bats.

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