We have been receiving increasing inquiries about the possible relevance of bats and bat houses to mosquito control.
Here is Merlin’s response.
Nearly 20 years ago, Frank Bibin, a Georgian pecan grower contacted Merlin for advice on attracting bats to help control insect pests in his orchards. He has since gone organic and become an important advocate for building artificial bat roosts. To learn of his results go to Pebble Hill Grove–About Bats.
Frank’s first small bat houses were put up in 1998. This video, filmed in Frank’s pecan orchard, tells his early story. It took two years to attract the first bats. Thereafter, numbers grew rapidly. Now that local bats are accustomed to using bat houses, new houses are normally occupied within 30-40 days.
Through years of testing, he has developed many new innovations. His bat houses and mounting accessories are achieving nearly 100 percent occupancy at many locations in the Southeast and are available for purchase at Frank’s website, Pebble Hill Grove–Bat Houses . Parks and nature centers are among his primary customers. Though there are many suppliers of smaller bat houses, we know of none better than Frank’s when it comes to long-lasting roosts that attract larger numbers of bats.
How Frank does it… (more…)
We would like to highlight a recent study of exceptional importance to all who care about conserving bats. As one who has long promoted the potential benefits of attracting bats to artificial roosts, Merlin is especially pleased with the publication of a recent multi-year study documenting the successful attraction of thousands of bats to small, inexpensive bat houses, leading to well documented reduction of rice pests below threshold levels that require use of chemical pesticides.
The study titled, Pest control service provided by bats in Mediterranean rice paddies, appeared in the journal Mammalian Biology and is available for free download at researchgate.net.
The researchers report that properly located bat houses were readily occupied by soprano pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), and that as numbers increased damage from rice borer moths (Chilo supressalis) fell sufficiently to eliminate further need for chemical pesticides. They additionally note that the cost of putting up bat houses was 6-8 times less than that of relying on chemical treatments. These authors also provide an invaluable summary of current knowledge of bat values to agriculture. There are numerous opportunities to expand on this pioneering research which is urgently needed. We deeply appreciate the help of Adrià López-Baucells and Oriol Massana Valeriano in providing outstanding photographic documentation of this project.
Here’s contact info for ADRIÀ LÓPEZ BAUCELLS
PhD student on Bat Ecology and Conservation
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia
Lisbon University – cE3c
Museu de Ciències Naturals de Granollers
PhD Project Site
Portuguese Research Group Site
Natural Science Museum of Granollers
Tel.: 351 914 413 804
Thanks to help from a local macademia grower, Koos Steyn, here in South Africa, we finally got approximately 100 green stink bugs, the most costly pest of macademias, and were able to coax our common slit-faced bat (Nycteris thebaica) to carry a couple of them through an infrared beam before eating them beyond recognition. In the process we used up nearly all our stink bugs, but on the last shot of the night, after hours of failed efforts, we got a nice photo. Merlin still isn’t completely satisfied, so we’ll be trying for more.
His next goal is to photograph a Botswanan long-eared bat (Laephotis botswanae) plucking a stink bug off of a macademia branch. This is a real challenge, especially since we still haven’t even been able to catch one of these bats! The nights have been quite cold this whole trip, likely accounting for this failure. But we’ll try our luck again tonight in Koos’ orchard.