Bat man to the rescue

Warmer temperatures could see t he local re-emergence of deadly mosquito-born diseases like malaria and Ross River virus, the Lymphoedema Association of WA says. “We have plenty of local mosquitos that don’t carry  those diseases but are just an irritating nuisance, especially around our wetlands,” mayor Katherine Jackson told the Herald.

But the council and the public should not rely on pesticides to get rid of the pests, she added. “The impact of wildlife can be severe, affecting other animals up the good food chain. For example raptors who eat poisoned rats and mice might be severely debilitated or die,” she said.

At the recent Melville Wood and Wildlife Festival, bird and bat nest box expert Joe Tonga explained the need to build “bat boxes” to house the local mammals. He said bats fed on mosquitoes and could help reduce their numbers in the area. Mayor Jackson reckons such bat boxes could help solve the mosquito problem in Melville’s wetlands. “These boxes are for small insect-eating bats that are only about five centimetres long,” Mr Tonga said.

“Contrary to what people think, these bats do not get caught in people’s hair and they don’t attack anyone. In fact, there are no vampire bats in Australia.” Mr Tonga said building and installing bat boxes would encourage the nocturnal mammals to “do their work cleaning up the mosquitos” and other insects. Mayor Jackson said she wants more bat boxes at Piney Lakes Environmental Centre in Winthrop and other municipalities to stem the mosquito problem.

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