Nature’s mosquito control

| 03/11/2008

(CNS): Eating millions of insects every night – many of them mosquitoes – Cayman’s bats are almost as important as the Mosquito Research & Control Unit in keeping the pesky creatures at bay. This is just one nugget of information picked up by the adults and children who joined in with the National Trust’s Bat Fly Out last week.

On Wednesday evening, 29 October, the Trust hosted a special Bat Watching event at Watler’s Cemetery. The evening included storytelling about duppies and pirates under the bat house, while everyone watched the bats make their first flight of the evening at sunset.

“The group learned how bats protect vineyards and fruit trees from insect predators, pollinate wild fruits and nuts in the rainforest and spread seeds to keep ecosystems healthy and diverse,” said Lois Blumenthal, Bat Conservation Coordinator for the National Trust. “Due to the weather, only 5 of the 300 or so bats in the bat house ventured out, but we could hear their squeaking,” she added.

Toy bat rings were handed out to the young people and a pamphlet giving the run down on Cayman’s nine bat species was distributed amongst the adults. As well as enjoying themselves, the bat watchers learned during the evening that the bat is Cayman’s only native mammal. Each bat eats over 1,000 insects every night, and with approximately 300 bats per bat-house and nearly 80 bat-houses throughout the island, that is equal to almost 2.4 million mosquitoes and other insects eaten per night. And as the bats munched on the bugs, the people enjoyed a more tasty selection of fruit juice and nuts.

The event also included story time with Denise Bodden, Historic Programmes Manager of the National Trust, who read “If Only Duppies Could Pinch”, a short story by Jackie Bodden. Participants were also offered a tour of the Watler Cemetery, which is a National Trust owned property with traditional house-shaped graves and sanded grounds.

“As hurricanes have ravaged these valuable historic sites island-wide, the unique elements of these sites and their significance in history needs to be passed on to our children,” explained Bodden, the Trust’s tireless advocate for preserving Cayman’s built heritage.

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