© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Long Island Town Using Bats To Fight Mosquitoes

Fears of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses have led a Long Island town to experiment with the use of bats as a natural alternative to pesticides to pesticides to kill mosquitoes this summer.

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jodi Bosworth says the buzz in mosquito control is no longer pesticides, it’s bats.

“You might say that, you know, here in North Hempstead, we are rolling out the welcome mat for our bats.”  

Bats eat any flying insects that come out at night, basically whatever insect is in their line of flight.  

In a lab setting, bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour. Bosworth says pesticides can’t achieve the same result.

Although she has no empirical way to assess the mosquito levels, Bosworth says she is no longer bitten while walking through Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson.

“So is that a direct relationship to the bat houses? The bats controlling the population? Very possibly it is.”

With the rise of Zika virus and other diseases, many communities have resorted to the use of pesticides to kill mosquitoes. These chemicals can contaminate drinking water and harm wildlife.  

Biologist Eric Powers, who volunteers at the Clark Botanic Garden, says that it is especially important to use natural remedies, such as bats, because past pesticide use nearly wiped out certain species of birds on Long Island.

“The fact that here on Long Island, we have such a rich environmental activism history, you know, we should really be concerned with using chemicals once again to control these mosquitoes.”

There are currently 20 bat houses at the Garden, and each holds 100 bats.

Yianni Biniaris, a 16-year-old from Manhasset, wants to double the number of bat houses in North Hempstead’s parks.

“We’ve had two people already ask if we can put houses in their backyards.”

Biniaris is building 24 bat houses that will be erected in the Town’s parks. It’s his Eagle Scout project.

Bats naturally take over the houses once installed.