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Long Island town employs creative strategy to keep mosquitoes away


With a potential ZIka pandemic luring over the Americas, one Long Island town is stepping up to bat.

Bats can reportedly eat up to 1000 mosquitoes an hour.

The World Health Organization has recently declared a global emergency following the Zika outbreak in the Americas, and residents in the US are already starting to take measures. But how can you protect yourself against an almost invisible threat – mosquitoes? Sure, authorities can spray mosquito-killing substances and fertile breeding grounds can be cleaned up, but in the end, it’s very difficult to truly eradicate mosquitoes from an area. People of North Hempstead in the Long Island area believe they have found the solution: bats.

Bats are the natural predators of mosquitoes, being able to eat up to a thousand mosquitoes an hour. It’s also a pesticide-free method, posing no secondary threats for humans or the environment. In order to lure more bats to the area, authorities have mounted “bat boxes” on trees, providing them a free and easy accommodation.

CBS New York recently visited the Clark Botanical Gardens, where several of the “bat boxes” have been installed. Commissioner Jill Weber told CBS that the boxes should be installed at 15-30 feet off of the ground, where the bats are most comfortable. The information about the bats’ potential performance also came from Weber:

“They just need to go up 15 to 30 feet to get them off the ground. Bats are more comfortable when they are high up and can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour once situated in an area,” Weber said.

It’s an interesting solution, and it’s just crazy enough to work. Unfortunately, the same strategy won’t work in areas like rural Brazil, where the areas are much larger and harder to cover by the bats. However, installing bat houses close to breeding grounds seems like a promising idea.

When it comes to controlling the threat of Zika, one Long Island town is stepping up to bat. Residents of North Hempstead have begun installing homemade wooden boxes to attract bats that are able to eat 1,000 mosquitoes an hour as a natural, pesticide-free method of fighting disease in the area. CBS New York recently visited the Clark Botanical Gardens, where several of the "bat boxes" have been installed.

Some of the DIY bat boxes at the gardens were made by boy and girl scouts and required just a few simple materials: scrap wood, stain, nails and screws. North Hempstead Parks Commissioner Jill Weber told CBS that the boxes should be installed at 15-30 feet off of the ground so that the bats to feel comfortable. The boxes should also be hung facing south in order to maintain the optimal temperature for the bats.

“They just need to go up 15 to 30 feet to get them off the ground. Bats are more comfortable when they are high up and can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour once situated in an area,” Weber said.

RELATED: Millions of genetically altered mosquitoes are being released in the Cayman Islands to fight Zika

With that kind of appetite for disease-carrying skeeter destruction, bats are a great boon for those looking to avoid dangerous chemical pesticides, but should we be worried about any harm the winged creatures can inflict upon humans themselves?

According to CBS, North American bat species feast on insects and fruits, not human or animal blood. The report also points out that only one half of one percent of bats may contract rabies, but warns that you should never try to handle a bat yourself.

Via CBS New York

Images via CBS New York video

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — North Hempstead is taking an unusual approach to controlling mosquitoes and the Zika virus.

Residents have recruited another flying creature to keep the mosquitoes away.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, they’re bringing in the bats, and third graders from Franklin Square are going batty.

At Clark Botanical Gardens the town put out the welcome mat by hanging ‘bat boxes.’

Most bats in the U.S. eat insects, loads of insects, some eat fruit, but there aren’t any blood sucking bats in North America.

The bats’ nocturnal habits keep them active during the night — dusk to dawn.

They feast and munch on disease carrying mosquitoes that have the potential to infect humans with Zika or West Nile.

Bats are credited as being a natural, organic, way of pest control.

To avoid what is known as the ‘pesticide treadmill’ the town is encouraging families to build their own bat houses.

The boxes at the botanical gardens were built by boy and girl scouts with scrap wood, nails, screws, and stain.

The boxes should be given a southern exposure.

“Just need to go up 15 to 30 feet to get them off the ground. Bats are more comfortable when they are high up and can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour once situated in an area,” Jill Weber, Parks Commissioner, Town of North Hempstead explained.

The bat has a troubled reputation to overcome.

“They have a negative connotation, bats swooping down like a vampire, not the case, bats are tiny, tiny animals. They pollinate 500 native plants,” John Darcy, Deputy Parks Commissioner, North Hempstead said.

Less than one half of one percent of bats may contract rabies, which is far less than other animals, but experts said you should never handle a bat.

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Megabats and Microbats: Long Island town employs creative strategy to keep mosquitoes away
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