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Microbats say 'buzz off' to mosquitoes

BUZZ OFF: USC Animal Ecology Lecturer Dominique Potvin setting up a box for micro bats.
BUZZ OFF: USC Animal Ecology Lecturer Dominique Potvin setting up a box for micro bats. Contributed

IT IS a sound we're all too familiar with - the sound of a mosquito buzzing right next to your ear before landing somewhere on your body for a feast.

Luckily, USC Fraser Coat has a solution and it comes in the form of mighty mosquito-eating microbats which they are encouraging to move on campus.

A collaborative research project between the Fraser Coast Microbats Society and USC Animal Ecology students, several boxes will be installed in trees around the Hervey Bay campus to provide the tiny, threatened bats with shelter, roosting and nesting sites.

USC Animal Ecology Lecturer Dr Dominique Potvin said the project would not only help increase microbat populations but also reduce the numbers of mosquitoes and midges.

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It would also provide students with a platform for ongoing research that could be published internationally.

"Students will monitor the boxes and record data on regional bat populations and the health of our local ecosystems," Dr Potvin said.

She said the microbats can weigh as little as three grams and feast on pest insects such as weevils, midges, flying termites and disease-carrying mosquitoes.

In a single night, some Queensland microbat species can eat an average of 400 mosquitoes.

"Pest control of mosquitoes and midges in the region is a hot political topic with politicians promising hundreds of thousands of dollars to reduce biting insects most likely in the form of chemical control," Dr Potvin said.

"Bat boxes are a natural and relatively cheap alternative to insect control with each box costing around $40 and capable of housing families of two to 10 bats.

"In the whole of the USA, bats are worth around $23 billion in pest suppression, with a recent study in Texas showing that microbats saved farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in stopping losses from insect-related damages."

For anyone interested in installing boxes around their own properties, the Fraser Coast Microbat group will host an information display in the USC Library foyer in Hervey Bay from November 22-24.

Topics:  fccommunity fceducation microbats mosquitos sunshine coast university



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