Community hopes bats will combat mosquito problem

Community hopes bats will combat mosquito problem

(WMC-TV) - After a fifth West Nile Virus death in Mississippi, there is increasing concern about the mosquito population in DeSoto County.

Horn Lake, Mississippi is hoping bats will take a bite out of the pests.

With their flights at night, you may never see them, but the creatures are already around.

Fruit bats at the Memphis Zoo are about the same size as the insect-hungry species in hollow trees at Latimer Lakes Park in Horn Lake.

Horn Lake Library youth specialist Carson Culver wants more of them and is heading up efforts to install bat houses in the community.

"Establishing a bat colony will help because the bats, one bat can eat up to 6,000 mosquitoes per night," said Culver.

David Tice brings his little one to the park and says this past summer's mosquitoes have emptied out their can of bug spray along with their patience.

"The mosquitoes have been awful with West Nile Virus and everything going around, especially with a little boy, you don't want him to get bit, you know with a weak immune system," Tice said.

On Wednesday, the first bat hotel will go up about 15 feet in the air to attract the creatures from nearby trees.

If bugs are a farmer's nemesis there may soon be a new ally to protect the fields.

"When farmers don't have to go to the expense of spraying for insects that helps them financially but also don't have to worry about runoff affecting our water tables or getting into the soil," Culver said.

While bats can carry rabies, an assistant curator at the Memphis Zoo said very few of them ever do, but they still encourage people to be cautious of bats flying during the day or on the ground.

"I don't think there's really anything to be scared about, they actually help us more than they hurt us," said David Tice.

The Memphis Zoo and the Mississippi Bat Working Group will join folks at Latimer Lakes Park and the library to educate citizens during the city's Fright Night on October 27.

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