Bats Brought In To Battle Mosquitos

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(This I have to admit is surprisingly pleasant to hear when considering just how bass ackwards most people here are. Hopefully they DO realize the bats are migrating OUT of the area for the cold season. :) JNJ)
**************************************************************** Bats Brought In To Battle Mosquitos LAST UPDATE: 10/31/2003 10:51:04 PM
The Anderson Park District is taking unusual measures in the fight against West Nile. It is bringing in bats, in hopes the winged creatures will gobble up mosquitos, which are known to carry the virus. This comes after a mosquito with West Nile was found over the summer in Kellogg Park, leading the District to cancel their Haunted Hike this year.
Puddles in the park were treated with chemical dunks to kill larvae, and mosquito magnets were also used to get rid of the adult insects. Seven bat houses, made by local boy scouts, have been put up in the park. Each one housing 30 bats, of 11 different species. Park District officials say if the experiment works, more bat houses will be put up in other parks next fall.
One bat can eat 500 of the insects in just one hour. But there's no need to be afraid. Park officials say that bats' reputation of sucking blood and flying into human hair are simply myths. They only fly close to people if their exceptional radar and hearing show a bug nearby to eat.
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Does anybody else think this isn't going to work? Somebody in the group mentioned that bats (or maybe it was purple martins) don't really eat mosquitoes, and comparing the nutritional value of a scrawny mosquito to a nice fat juicy night flying moth or bettle, I'm inclined to believe. Mosquitoes and bats also seem to (at least stereotypically) occupy disparate habitats. So unless one of the species is Fjordhamper's Skeetereater Swamp-cave bat, it seems like the experiment is doomed to failure (at least mosquito-wise). I wonder if there even is a bat with ultrasound of sufficent resolution to distinguish a mosquito. Worst case is if the mosquitoes start infecting the bats and the bats become vectors for West Nile. (Don't know if that's possible, though).
-- ST
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Well, this is silly. Bats like to eat beefy moths and other larger flying insects. They do eat mosquitoes, but not nearly the amount people'd have you believe.
Taken from this website: www.batcon.org
THE LIVES OF Mexican Free-tailed Bats BY MERLIN D. TUTTLE
AS BATS GO, Mexican freetailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) may not be much to look at; they're drab in color, ranging from dark brown to grey, and they have the characteristic wrinkled lips that others of their genus share. Some have described them as looking like little gnomes with an overbite. They get their name from their tail, which protrudes freely beyond the tail membrane.
Despite their rather plain appearance, these are some of the world's most intriguing bats. Speedsters of the bat world, they have been clocked flying at 60 miles per hour using tail winds, and at altitudes over 10,000 feet, higher than any other bat. Free-tails can live in an atmosphere more like another planet than earth, one that can quickly kill most other creatures, including humans. And they form colonies larger than any other bat, larger, in fact, than any warm-blooded animal in the world.
The largest populations of Mexican free-tailed bats live in Central Texas and Mexico, but they are also common throughout much of western North America, southward through Central America, and into the arid and semi arid regions of western and southern South America. They live in many habitats, including urban areas, and range- from deserts to piρon-juniper woodlands and pine-oak forests. Although bachelor colonies of free-tails have been found at elevations over 9,000 feet, large nursery colonies tend to prefer relatively dry areas below 5,000 feet. Mexican free-tails typically live in caves, abandoned mines, or tunnels, and also roost in buildings, under bridges, in rock shelters, in hollow trees, and in cliff-face crevices.
Mexican free-tailed bats are also known as "guano bats" for the prodigious quantities of droppings that they produce. Extraction of guano for use as natural fertilizer was once big business, and some is still sold commercially. From 1903 to 1923, at least 100,000 tons were removed from Carlsbad Caverns alone and sold to fruit growers in California. According to Charles Campbell, Bracken and Frio caves in Central Texas on average each produced 75 to 80 tons annually in the early 1900s. Officials of the Southern Pacific Railroad estimated that, early this century, they annually transported 65 carloads of 30,000 pounds each from Texas, making bat guano the state's largest mineral export before oil. Bracken Cave, now owned and protected by BCI, was still producing from 80 to 85 tons per year in the late 1980s.
Each free-tail cave is also a potential treasure trove for biotechnologists. Microbiologist Bernie Steele examined guano from Bracken Cave, finding that a single ounce contains billions of bacteria. He concluded that the cave contains thousands of species of bacteria, many of which may live nowhere else, and most of which we know nothing about. Species he identified produce enzymes useful in detoxifying industrial wastes, producing natural insecticides, improving detergents, and converting waste byproducts into alcohol. A large proportion are also potential sources of new antibiotics. Stratified guano deposits in free-tail bat caves have also been used to monitor environmental pollution and to investigate prehistoric climatic changes. Free-tailed bats have supported several American war efforts as well. When Confederacy ports were blockaded in the latter part of 1863, a gun powder factory was established near San Antonio. The powder's most valuable ingredient, saltpeter, was made from local bat guano. During World War 11, major free-tailed bat caves near San Antonio were carefully guarded during top-secret research coded "Project X-Ray."* The U.S. Air Force hoped to use bats as carriers of small incendiary bombs that would be dropped on Japan. The project began to lose favor when escaped bat bombardiers set fire to air base barracks and a general's car. After being passed on to the Navy, and finally the Marine Corps, the project was canceled.
WHILE MOST PEOPLE are unaware of the presence of these bats in their area, Mexican free-tails are very much a part of life in Central Texas, where the largest populations in the United States make their summer homes. These huge colonies, several numbering in the millions each, are where mothers congregate to give birth. The importance of these nursery sites is enormous; bats born here help replenish colonies throughout much of the Southwest and other areas.
Bats begin arriving in Central Texas in late February, having migrated from overwintering sites in Mexico. Active year-round, free-tails do not hibernate. just before their northward migration, they mate. Although young males apparently do not reach sexual maturity until their second year, females as young as a year old have been found pregnant.
By summer, male and female free-tails will have divided into bachelor and nursery colonies. Bachelor groups are relatively small, consisting of dozens to hundreds of individuals, but can number 100,000 or more. In contrast, most nursery colonies are large, numbering from the hundreds of thousands to millions. Bracken Cave is home to some 20 million free-tailed bats, a population that almost doubles when the bats give birth. This is the largest known bat colony in the world.
Typically, each female produces just one young, and virtually all give birth during a brief span of time, peaking between the first and third weeks of June. Birth periods may vary from year to year since weather differences can affect the length of gestation. Newborn young, called pups, weigh nearly a quarter of their mother's weight and are often more than half as long.
Mothers give birth while clinging to the roost with both thumbs and one or both feet. Babies are born naked, often with their eyes open. As soon as the baby is born, the mother carefully cleans and nurses it. For up to an hour, the newborn remains attached to its mother by the umbilical cord, safeguarding against falls and allowing time to learn one another's scent and voice before becoming separated.
Eventually, the mother pulls away to dislodge the placenta, which remains attached to the baby until it dries and falls off a day or two later. Pups have an instinctual tenacious clinging response, using their large feet and thumbs to hold on to walls and their tiny incisor teeth to cling to mothers or other bats. Richard Davis reported during his research that when a single baby was removed from a cave wall, as many as 15 could be pulled off as each clung to the next.
Each cave appears to have favored areas where young are deposited year after year. Gary McCracken and Mary Gustin, who conducted extensive research on the huge nursery colonies of Central Texas, found average roosting densities of 400 pups per square foot and sometimes as many as 500. As the thousands of pups squeak, jostle, and crawl over one another, the cave walls are alive with constant motion and sound.
With so much confusion, it had long been believed that mothers nursed the first pup they found. But McCracken postulated just the opposite. Using sophisticated genetic analysis of mothers with nursing young, he documented that nursing is not random. He and Gustin then used specially marked mother and young pairs, monitoring them with nightviewing devices attached to video cameras, to show that each mother finds and nurses her own pup multiple times daily.
They found that mothers roost apart in adult clusters, remembering the approximate locations of their pups. Since pups may move from a few inches to over a yard between feedings, locating them among the thousands of others is a remarkable feat. Mothers and pups recognize each other's unique voices at least three feet away and move toward one other despite the incredible confusion of calls emanating from countless thousands of other bats. Multiple landings are typically required to find a pup, each bracketing its location in a manner suggesting that a mother is triangulating her pup's voice. Finding her young can take as little as 12 seconds to nearly 10 minutes. She most commonly feeds her pup before she goes out to feed and again when she returns in the morning.
Final recognition is by scent, though it remains to be discovered whether the scent is placed on the pup from glands on the mother's face, or whether each pup has its own unique odor. A successful reunion ends with a mother touching the top of her pup's head with her muzzle, apparently smelling and exchanging vocalizations with it. Such exchanges can last for a minute or more before the mother raises her folded wing and nudges the pup toward one of her breasts.
Over a 24-hour period, she may produce as much as a quarter of her own body weight in milk. Young free-tails grow rapidly, benefitting from prodigious quantities of this extremely rich milk. They reach adult mass and learn to fly when four to five weeks old and are weaned within approximately five to six weeks.
On its first attempt at flight, a young free-tail must avoid several mid-air collisions per second, relying on an as yet untested navigation system in a dark cave. Although amazingly few serious collisions occur, those that do can break wings or ground a bat long enough to be attacked by swarms of dermestid beetles and their larva that live on the floors of most free-tailed bat caves. As with other bats, the heaviest mortality probably occurs in the first year, perhaps as much as 50 percent.
Predation at entrances to nursery caves increases dramatically as the young bats learn to fly. Avian predators are many, with red-tailed hawks and owls the most common, catching flying bats during emergence and occasionally entering caves to catch those roosting near entrances. Raccoons, opossums, skunks, and other mammals also prey on the emerging bats, as well as several types of large snakes. Given the huge numbers of bats present, such predators likely have relatively little impact. WITH COLONIES OF this size, cave temperatures are raised dramatically. In Bracken Cave, the 20 million mother bats, with a body mass roughly equal to 271 tons, generate an enormous amount of heat. During summer, the cave's temperature varies only one-sixth as much as the outside; without its bats, Bracken Cave's walls likely would be less than 68 F. Shared body heat raises average wall temperatures to 88 F, enabling the bats to maintain cluster temperatures of 100-105 with greatly reduced energy expenditure. As the summer progresses, however, bats may overheat the cave, forcing large numbers of roosting individuals to extend and flap their wings or even take flight to cool down.
With fresh droppings and occasional dead bats falling to the floor in Bracken, dermestid beetles begin to multiply. By mid-summer, their numbers can be truly astronomical, causing the floor surface to be in constant seething motion with dermestids scurrying about looking for food. While young bats falling to the floor can be skeletonized in minutes, the greatest impact of dermestids comes from their waste byproducts, which, combined with water vapor, become ammonium hydroxide.
That free-tailed bats can thrive in this toxic atmosphere may be one of the most remarkable things about them. Concentrations of ammonia in free-tail caves can quickly build to levels that are lethal to humans, but the bats survive by lowering their metabolic rates. Carbon dioxide then accumulates, both in the bats' blood and in respiratory mucous, directly proportional to increases in ammonia inhalation. The carbon dioxide neutralizes the ammonia in a buffering mechanism that protects the lungs.
Although concentrations of just 250 parts per million are highly hazardous to humans, free-tails can filter out more than 97 percent of the ammonia present when inhaled at 1,130 parts per million and can still eliminate 73 percent at over 5,000 parts per million. Levels in their roosts, however, rarely exceed 1,000 parts. Depending on the concentration of ammonia in a freetail roost, the bats' fur bleaches from its natural dark brown or grey to various shades of reddish brown. In caves where there are no dermestid beetles, ammonia buildup does not occur.
EACH NIGHT, colonies leave their roosts to feed, emerging in great, often spectacular, columns. The most impressive flights occur after the young begin to emerge with adults in August and September. Many have likened the sound of thousands and thousands of wings beating the air to that of a white-water river. Observers often feel a slight breeze created by the bats as they swirl higher and higher to gain altitude before forming vast undulating columns. Flights from Bracken Cave are so dense that they can be seen on both airport and weather radar screens miles away. Emergences of colonies of this size often go on for hours.
Mexican free-tailed bats are designed for rapid, long-distance travel. Their exceptionally long, narrow wings are geared for relatively highspeed, low-maneuverability flight in open areas. Even their short, velvety fur appears to be an adaptation to reduce drag, and their ear orientation appears to form airfoils that contribute lift during flight. They have been clocked at average flight speeds of 25 miles per hour and as high as 47 miles per hour in level flight, but they can also attain speeds of over 60 miles per hour using tail winds.
Mexican free-tails normally emerge by sundown. Researcher Timothy Williams observed Bracken Cave bats with radar, concluding that most feeding occurred within 528 feet of the ground. He and his research team observed dense, early-evening concentrations of flying insects within this range. Some scientists speculate that the bats from Bracken, which have been found flying at altitudes of 6,600 to 10,000 and more feet, may also be feeding on concentrations of migratory moths at these heights. And again, they may be simply catching high tail winds to speed travel to distant locations. Little is known about how far they travel to feed, but given how high and fast they can fly, many likely go more than 50 miles in one direction each night.
Free-tails spend more time traveling and feeding each night than most bats, in part due to competition from large numbers of roost mates. They typically are on the wing from dusk until dawn. Nursing mothers require at least twice as much food as nonreproductive bats, especially as their pups near fledging. At such times, researcher Thomas Kunz found that they may consume their body weight nightly.
If one assumes that the 20 million nursing mothers at Bracken Cave each eat their body weight of about 12.3 grams, a single night's consumption easily could exceed 250 tons of flying insects. Their total ecological and economic impact is probably enormous. One study conducted near Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, determined that about half of the insects eaten were pests that had fed on alfalfa and cotton crops, the nearest of which were grown some 40 miles away along the Pecos River.
Mexican free-tails feed exclusively on flying insects, mostly moths, flying ants, and beetles, according to samples thus far reported. At the turn of the century, Charles Campbell, the city bacteriologist for San Antonio, Texas, built large artificial bat roosts to "control mosquitoes" [BATS, Summer 1989]. Some of these tower-like structures were occupied by hundreds of thousands of bats, and many San Antonians swore by his success.
Although Campbell observed bats of unknown identity catching mosquitoes in the area, there is no documentation that the free-tailed bats from his artificial roosts actually ate them. Given the high-speed, relatively low-maneuverability flight of free-tails, it seems unlikely that they would prey extensively on mosquitoes. Bats, however, are highly opportunistic; the larger, also fast-flying, hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) is known to home in on mosquitoes when they are abundant.
At dawn, the free-tails return to their roost in an event sometimes said to be even more spectacular than evening emergences. Richard Davis and his fellow researchers observed flocks of thousands of bats each, first becoming visible 4,900 to 8,200 feet above Bracken Cave. These high-altitude flocks sometimes flew past the entrance at speeds of almost 60 miles per hour before turning around and diving toward the entrance. Beginning about two hours before sunrise, small groups built up into a continuous diving stream, reaching the greatest density about 30 minutes before dawn. The first arriving bats came in shallow, zigzagging glides, but as flight density increased, they formed a continuous stream of individuals dropping out of the sky into the mouth of the cave. Each was executing a rapid series of free falls with closed wings, alternating with abrupt, brief wing openings to control speed and direction. Some groups dropped nearly 10,000 feet at speeds estimated to exceed 80 miles per hour.
AS SOON AS their young have become proficient flyers, many free-tails leave the major nursery caves of Central Texas. Once thought to be migratory movements, these August departures apparently are only local and are correlated with weather patterns, combined with the stress of overheating and concentrated gas buildup in their caves. just before bats begin to leave Bracken Cave in early August, huge clusters roost within inches of direct sunlight in the cave entrance where fresh air is most available. These factors may also be combined with attempts to escape parasites that build up on roosts during the nursery period.
As large numbers of bats leave the cave, they begin appearing in groups of tens to hundreds of thousands under highway bridges and in almost any other available place. During 1993, an extremely dry year in Central Texas, so many free-tails attempted to move under Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge that tens of thousands were forced to hang out in the open on the concrete pillars. With three-quarters of a million bats of its own, the bridge is the site of the largest urban colony of bats in the world.
Additional groups of up to 500,000 each were reported beneath other bridges that year, and unprecedented numbers moved into parking garages, vacant buildings, and sports stadiums. But on the night when the first mild cool front passed in early September, many thousands of free-tails that had been roosting in exposed places apparently returned to Bracken Cave, which had by then been purged of hot gases by the cool air. Although the emergence from Bracken had been surprisingly small for several weeks, it was extraordinarily large on the evening following the disappearance of the excess bats from the Congress Avenue Bridge, some 60 miles away.
True southward migration of the free-tails appears not to begin until October. The vast majority of the U.S. population spends the winter mostly in large caves of northern and Central Mexico. Populations living in California, western Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, and southwestern Utah apparently live in roughly the same areas year-round, though seasonal movements among roosts are common. There are two main migrations. Most of those from the Southwest migrate south along the Sierra Madre Occidental and the West Coast of Mexico at least as far south as the state of Sinaloa. Free-tails from the Great Plains typically travel southward through
Texas and along the Sierra Madre Oriental into eastern and south-central Mexico, some perhaps farther.
It is clear that major migratory departures in the fall are triggered by the passage of strong cold fronts from the north. Large departures from Bracken are typically correlated with passage of extra-strong cold fronts arriving in late October or early November. Departure dates can vary by several weeks in different years, according to changing weather patterns. Not all of the bats leave at once, instead departing in several large groups at different times.
Even among populations that migrate, not all bats leave. Several thousand have been observed overwintering in Bracken Cave, as well as in concrete crevices beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge, and in old buildings in Austin. Although free-tails can enter torpor during inclement winter weather, they are not true hibernators. During extremely cold weather, many die. It is unknown why some stay behind.
The longest proven migrations are of bats banded by Bryan Glass in northwestern Oklahoma and later recovered up to 1,104 miles south in Mexico. The northernmost area where he believed any of his bats could have overwintered was 480 miles south in Texas. The original bandings were made at four caves less than 48 miles apart, between which the bats intermingled. One bat was recaptured at its cave of birth in Oklahoma after having completed eight migratory circuits. Free-tails typically return to their home areas, but for these long distance travelers, a home area may include caves over 100 miles apart.
All available evidence suggests that free-tails typically travel in groups at all seasons. Richard Davis and fellow researchers recorded a particularly impressive spring arrival on April 22 at Frio Cave in Texas. At a time when few other bats had yet arrived, "several million bats hurtled down out of the night within the space of ten minutes." They arrived at about midnight. Denny Constantine, another researcher, believed that inexperienced travelers arriving at night could locate less familiar caves simply by listening for local bats and following them in. Traveling in groups certainly must increase the odds that some in the group will know the way.
Davis believed that migratory movements were rapid, crossing Texas in one or a few nonstop flights, covering at least 290 miles a night. Given knowledge of bat flight speeds with tail winds, migrating free-tails should be able to cover that distance in no more than five hours, perhaps substantially less, depending on wind velocity. Such timing would ensure arrival at stopover caves at optimal times for following other bats in, if necessary, and allow for unanticipated delays due to bad weather.
WHILE FREE-TAILED BATS are among the more studied, what remains to be discovered about them may be even more fascinating than what we already know. Why do so many fly so high? Are they simply catching tail winds to aid in rapid travel to distant locations, or are they actually feeding at such high altitudes? How do they navigate at high altitudes, given the fact that their echolocation signals reach little more than 100 feet and that cave entrances can be nearly impossible to see from even a few hundred yards? Bats are known to use celestial cues, but whatever cues they are relying on must work both night and day, since flights often arrive in midmorning.
Perhaps the most interesting questions of all involve the composition and role of flocks. How do they form? Who leads them, and how do they know where they are going, or how early to leave to ensure arrival at a time when they can maximize feeding success? Are groups composed of roostmates that hang in close proximity to each other by day, or do they have some other means of getting together prior to leaving the cave? With animals as fascinating as these, researchers will be pondering the answers to such questions for many years.
(Bio) Merlin D. Tuttle is founder and Executive Director of BCI. Portions of this article are excerpted from his forthcoming book, Bats of North America, to be published by University of Texas Press.
(Footnote) * The project is thoroughly described in Bat Bomb, World War II's Other Secret Weapon by Jack Couffer, available in the BCI catalogue.

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It is not silly - in Canada (and I am sure in the northern US) the brown bat is a very well known mosquito catcher. Like most mammals - each species or subspecies has it's own niche. Maybe the mexican free tailed bat eats mostly moths but there are bats that eat a LOT of mosquitos - just gotta find the right ones. Even the ones who don't if they're eating that many insects a night its worth having a few. BTW puple martins are excellent mosquito catchers too!! Worth putting in a purple martin house if you ar ein mosquito country - which I definitely am in. The bat population in Northwestern ontario has been drastically reduced in the last 30 yrs by deforestation and there is currently a move to try and repopulate. Tina Check out this link http://www.cws-scf.ec.gc.ca/hww-fap/hww-fap.cfm?ID_speciesQ&lang=e
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Bats do not eat enough mosquitoes, nor to martins, to call them helpful in controlling mosquito populations. Believe what you want, but the site you gave me tells me nothing other than showing a bat and a MOTH which it found in flight by echolocation.
It's a large myth that bats control mosquito populations as it is a myth martins make any dent. The way to control or manage them is up to the homeowners who leave out water in tubs, tires, plastic containers, bags, debris which can capture water, etc. Our pond had Bt-Israelensis to control mosquito larva.
Like I said, bats eat them, but to make them a primary management tool of mosquitoes is silly and uninformed.

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Did you actually read the info on the site? And I have 90 acres of property with a beaver pond and swamp area - I am not going to control the mosquito larvae in those areas. I am not talking about city populations of bats dear. I am talking about natural forested areas - or what is left of them. If a National Park wants to increase the population of bats, martens or swallows what is the big deal to you? Are you an ecologist specialising in Bats? or mosquito populations? On what basis are you refuting this? The site you posted only spoke of Mexican bats that inhabit southern areas. Do you have other published references that have disproven bat population density has no affect on mosquito populations?
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Dear, this is the largest (did you read that part) largest population of bats in an urban setting, directly above the water, under a bridge, in the WORLD. There are millions and millions of bats in this part of Texas. If you want to call Austin a city, fine. Obviously you've never been here.

It's no big deal to me. It is misleading to think bats, swallows, martins or anything like it will lower the mosquito rate, because it is misinformation.

Taken from http://www.mosquito.org/info.php
Mosquito Control
Mosquito control can be divided into two areas of responsibility: individual and public. Most often it's performed following the Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) concept. IMM is based on ecological, economic and social criteria and integrates multidisciplinary methodologies into pest management strategies that are practical and effective to protect public health and the environment and improve the quality of life. IMM strategies are employed in concert with insecticide. These include source reduction, which incorporates physical control (digging ditches and ponds in the target marsh) and biological control [placing live mosquito fish ( Gambusia ) in the ditches and ponds to eat mosquito larvae]. Other non-chemical control methods include invertebrate predators, parasites and diseases to control mosquito larvae. Adult mosquito biological control by means of birds, bats, dragonflies and frogs has been employed by various agencies. However, supportive data is anecdotal and there is no documented study to show that bats, purple martins, or other predators consume enough adult mosquitoes to be effective control agents.
And yes, I am quite well read about bats, I'm a Master Naturalist and live in a state in the US which has more bats than anywhere else in the country. Not just the state, I live two miles east of one of the largest colonies known in the US.
But, hey, continue to delude.
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I will concede that I do not know about the bats in your area - maybe in the US and Mexico. But I do know about ones in mine. Here the bats do help with mosquito control, I would not say it is going to put a dent in the population. Little brown bats which live where I am eat A LOT of mosquitos. I would bring them in just as I attract lady bugs into my garden as pest control.
There are not a lot of juried studies out there. Certainly not enough of different bat populations on different mosquito populations. I've seen the web sites you referred to in the past. I have seen them all cite the same org saying that there is not anecdotal evidence that bats, etcc, etc control the mosquito pops. I haven ot seen a journeled published article saying that they undesputably don't. I am not deluded, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that they will put money into researching biological controls and fearful that it will just be easier to start spraying - which many many cities have already started doing. We're never going to combat mosquitos - if we could there would be no malaria. Misinformation goes both ways - just as there is not hard scientific evidence that bats and martens don't control mosquito populations, there is not hard evidence that they have no affect. When I see articles publised citing real population ecology studies that say bats and martens definitely have no effect - maybe I will stop being "deluded".
I will call Austin a city. I am well travelled and very well educated in the sciences (Biology and chemistry). I have not been there but my husband has. It is a city. Compared to the places I spend my time where there are NO people and lots of wildlife and still untouched forest, it is a city.
You may have the largest population of bats, but here the population of some of our bats has dwindled due to deforestation. Sweeping generalisations regarding populations of genera that are widely diverse and live in totally different ecological niches lead to misinformation. Tina
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Five minutes in either direction from dead center of town in Austin is open country in the blackland prairie, hill country, Edwards Plateau, tall grass prairie. Four regions meet directly in the center of town. The population is half a million, with a lot of those being students at one or more of the major Universities.
This is a rural city.
Purple martins (with an i) have not made any difference in population. There have been studies and the most viable biological control is to remove habitat and where impossible, to treat with Bt-Israelensis aka mosquito dunks. The other viable, biological control is mosquito larvae eating fish.
I truly hope the bats help...West Nile and all. I have a parrot and I can't bring her outside because of this deadly disease. We have a bat house which probably has about 250 bats in it. No dent in mosquitoes.

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Too bad about your parrot - sad when birds have to be restricted so much. I used to have a lot of cockatiels flying around my house. Never had a parrot, always wanted one. Don't hink the cats would like it too much though. So far we are lucky here. The species of mosq that carries west nile is very low in pop here. So far the entymologists in the area that are studying it diligently now do not believe that we are in an area that the virus can run its course. We've had a few dead birds but they believe thje virus was contracted in Southern ONtario. Of course with global warming it is only a matter of time.
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I didn't realize they had bats in Canada, but it makes sense that they would eat mosquitoes there (for lack of anything else to eat). One of my former co-workers told me about a trip to Banf (sp?) and she said the skeeter population there was worse than Lousiana. Too bad the original poster doesn't say where the announcement is for. I still think it's going to be a waste of time if they're doing this in a temperate climate. The fact that they're going with so many speciies, leads me to think they don't know quite what they're doing (thus 'experiment').
-- ST
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Oh, I don't know about that -- bats DO eat mosquitoes although it's not the only thing in their diet of course. The very fact that the park district is actually using a natural approach to pest control is encouraging -- it's unusual in this area (highly unusual). Our mosquito problems have become pretty bad in this area and deforestation is becoming a greater and greater issue. While I doubt putting up bathouses is going to solve the skeeter problem, it's a worthwhile experiment and it has the added benefit of providing a habitat to the bats. I'll try to keep an eye out for how successful (or unsuccessful) they report it to be -- I just hope they don't expect results now and that they at least set the bathouses up properly. <Sigh>
James
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I would have thought that trying to encourage Swallows , Swifts and House Martins would be of more use.
--
David Hill
Abacus nurseries
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Here we are trying to encourage all of these things but bats as well. I love them - they come out a dusk when the birds are settling down and you can watch them swooping around eating the mosquitos!! You know it's mosquitos or the occasional moth depending on the time of year, because most of the other flying insects are gone to hide in the bush for the night. The

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Gone to hide in the bush for the night? Most moths are night flying insects. I'm happy your area is trying to use ecology for a situation, but it serves no purpose to give misinformation. Bats do NOT eat mosquitoes out of the air like that. Not at the rate you seem to think.
The bats which night roost on our property are continuously eating moths, and beetles by the street light. I watch them nightly. Many bats have not left the area for their migration to Mexico. Many of the males stay all winter. Bats do most of their eating at very high elevations...where it would be rare to find a mosquito.

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I said most insects are gone to hide in the bush - and I obviously know that moths are not in that group. I stand by my statement. Again I am speaking of in Canada and anywhere else that temps drop at night. Most of the flying insects - soft bodied disappear - they go into the bush to keep warm as they do not have the homoeostatic temp controls that warm blooded mammals have. Tina

House
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Insects are not mammals, but you know that. In cold climates there aren't insects which remain alive through the winter. I don't know where in Canada you are, but doesn't it get cold in most of the country in winter?
They insects which survive all winter in Texas USDA Zone 8b are primarily beneficial. Green lacewings are everywhere all winter till the summer heat arrives. Some moths. I've never once seen a mosquito in winter.
Are you on the Pacific side in a warm spot? I don't know much about Canada being warm in winter.

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I was speaking of hiding in the bush at night in warms months. I think you misunderstood or though that I meant now. Actually though a lot of true flies and other insects do not die in the cold - they somewhat hibernate and oh damn the specific word is eluding me - but they slow down their bodies and either burrow deep or find places in homes to overwinter. On a particularly warm sunny day in late winter you can sometimes see flies flying around in some buildings that they have chose to hide out in. They also hide behind siding, in insulation. Most houses are infested with dormant bugs and the owners are totally oblivious. Yes it gets cold here. Down to -40 in the winters. USDA Zone 2. Some say our 'national bird' is the mosquito. I think it is blackflies. You think mosquitos are pesty - blackflies take chunks out of you that will leave a welted bruise for a week. Animals run out of the bush to escape them in spring - moose deer, bear.. run out onto the road and create havoc for drivers. As a camper and outdoors person all my life I am immune to mosquito bites. AS a kid they drove me nuts - now I don't even notice them. They itch for about 5 minutes and go away. The lower pacific coast (Vancouver, Victoria, Frasier Valley) doesnt get that cold - hovers around 0F. must be something good about that because they get very few mosquitos there!!
I've enjoyed the debate Victoria. All in good spirit. Tina
I am in Northwestern Ont. Around 49th paralell.

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Wow, that is cold. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It's still 85 degrees F. We only get about 10 nights of hard freeze, but the ground never freezes here in this part of Texas. Northern Texas gets very cold and has a lot of snow, especially in the panhandle.
Well, I'm glad they are trying to do something biological, and I too am glad we had this benign debate. See you again.
Victoria

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Just be careful where you put your bathouse should you decide to employ one. You might end up with another problem: http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Pests/bathouse.htm sed5555
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