LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Bats are a blessing
September 1, 2009 · Updated 7:27 AM
To the editor:
This time of year we are blessed with bats. Yep, BATS.
Why blessed? A single bat will eat about 600 mosquitos an hour. They leave their roosts about 30 minutes after sunset, feed for an hour or so, and return to their pups. They fly out again before sunrise and gobble up more insects.
Bats only have one pup a year. They are more efficacious than pesticides in reducing insect populations. Bats are our friends.
Habitat destruction is decimating our bat population here on Whidbey. If you have bats in your attic or old chimney, please, let them be for now. They will leave in September, when they migrate south for the winter. Now, the bats in your chimney are the females and their pups. The males roost in trees or other areas.
But, what about rabies? Bats’ rate of infection is no more than any other mammals that are at risk, like raccoons and skunks.
If you don’t want bats in your chimney or attic, screen them out this winter with hardwire cloth. They can get through a ¼-inch space, like mice, so make it tight hardware cloth. And, hopefully, you will put up a bat house on the south side to provide them alternate housing.
There are many resources to get information about bats; www.batcon.org is the site for the Bat Conservancy; www.batsnorthwest.org is the site for a Puget Sound bat organization.
Please, before you flip out about bats in or near your house, educate yourself. Handle the situation responsibly, respecting their right to exist and their integral role in our environment.
Mary Ann Mansfield