Here's a mosquito solution

  An important ally was omitted from your article on safer ways of mosquito control (HCN, 9/13/04: Communities search for a safer way to kill mosquitoes).

It’s a humble and reviled creature with considerable ability to patrol the skies between dusk and dawn: the bat.

I sympathize with the interviewees in the article. Long ago, I lived in South Texas and was sprayed by the "fogging" truck on a summer night. I am grateful my neurons are doing as well as they are. Now I live in the Northwest, and work in a rehabilitation center. There I met a delightful and gritty young lady who landed in a wheelchair due to the effects of West Nile virus. So, I also know that the odds of having a serious case of West Nile are low, but devastation can still happen.

Bat houses and protection of bat-nesting areas would help a good deal without exposing anyone to pesticides. In the West, there are many old mines which are good bat shelters when gated to keep out children and other would-be explorers. The costs are small and the potential gains are great. Bats also aid farmers in pest control and carry out nighttime pollination (if you like tequila, you owe bats your thanks).

West Nile virus or not, we need to appreciate and better protect these amazing beasties. Check out Bat Conservation International’s Web site: www.batcon.org .

Marie Valleroy
Portland, Oregon

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