Nature Foundation Pilots Project of Using Natural Alternatives to Combat Dengue and Chikungunya Carrying Mosquitoes in Communities

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has launched a small pilot project using natural predators of flying insects to combat the mosquito population on St. Maarten. For the last few weeks there has been an increase in the mosquito population, which in turn may result in increased cases of dengue fever and chikungunya, amongst the population. The Nature Foundation has therefore launched a pilot project using especially bats to see if they can help control the mosquito population. Four private residences have been given so-called “Bat Boxes” by the Nature Foundation which will hopefully attract insect eating bats. 70% of the more than 1,000 bat species are insectivores, meaning they feed solely on insects and can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes an hour. Certain bat colonies have been estimated to eat almost 10,000-30,000 pounds of insects. Bat houses have been used to eliminate mosquitoes since the early 1900s. Bats, together with other Natural Methods such as using mosquitofish to eat mosquito larvae are a more natural alternative to pesticides which can cause harm to the environment.
“Bats make up almost a quarter of all mammals, and they are the only mammals able to fly. They can be found all throughout the world and although they may not be the cutest creatures in the animal kingdom, bats are extremely helpful to humans in many ways. Many movies, television shows, and books have given bats a bad name. When many people hear the word “bat,” they think of blood-thirsty creatures that spread diseases like rabies. We came up with this idea almost four years ago but we wanted to be absolutely sure that there aren’t any cases of rabies or other diseases in bats on St. Maarten and once we felt we were certain we contact private home owners and asked them if they were interested. People also fear that they will be attacked if they are outdoors at night when bats are present. This is a misunderstanding of bat behavior. Bats swoop down to catch flying insects, not to scare you,” read a Nature Foundation statement.

Bats are also pollinators, and plants that have white flowers are usually night pollinated by one of the few animals that fly at night…Bats! The Nature Foundation will be in contact with the volunteers of the pilot project to determine if the bats are helping with the reduction in the mosquito population.