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.