Italians recruit bats to take sting out of summer
Monday 21 June 2010
Italians are turning to one of nature's most misunderstood creatures to save them from the mosquitoes which plaque the country in the summer months.
Bat nesting boxes have been flying off the shelves of Italian supermarkets as people try to encourage the insect-eating mammals to move in – and spare them sleepless nights.
The Coop chain of supermarkets said last week that it had sold more than 12,000 bat boxes at £25 each since they went on sale at 160 of its stores in April.
One bat can consume 10,000 insects in one night, of which around 2,000 will be mosquitoes, according to Paolo Agnelli of Florence's Museum of Natural History. He added that relying on bats would allow people to dispense with toxic chemical insecticides that could kill bees and butterflies.
Authorities in the city of Modena hope that bats can stop the onslaught of the tiger mosquito, which in addition to tormenting millions of Italians since it arrived uninvited from the Far East 20 years ago, has also infected hundreds with the serious viral disease chikungunya fever.
The city is installing as many nesting boxes for bats as it can in order to reduce the number of blood-sucking insects.
Council workers place the bat boxes in quiet, dark, south-facing sites that bats prefer for rearing young in the spring months.
"We were trying to think of what we could do to exploit their natural predators, and so we thought of bats," said Modena's environment councillor Simona Arletti. "Until now the measures against mosquitoes have just been based on prevention, in the sense citizens have been told to get rid of stagnant water."
Following Modena's lead, Rome, Venice and Treviso are also installing as many nesting boxes for bats as they can.
It's not surprising that people are willing to try anything in the Po River Valley, a huge chunk of northern Italy that runs from the Western Alps across to the Adriatic. The area is marked by hot, damp summers which see mosquitoes flourish.
But it was the arrival of the tiger variety from south-east Asia in 1990 that really raised the stakes in the ritual summer battle. In 2007 tiger mosquitoes caused an outbreak of chikungunya fever in and around Ravenna, a city not far from Modena. One elderly victim died from the disease.
The eminent Italian zoologist and animal behaviour expert Danilo Mainardi, writing in Corriere della Sera, hailed the new found respect for bats as a harmless and environment-friendly means of pest control. "It would be wonderful if, finally, bats started to enjoy our help and good will," he said.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Paralympian sick again after photographs of Reeva Steenkamp's body are shown in court
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: US pushes search towards vast expanse of the Indian Ocean
Seth Rogen compiles list of all the celebrities he’s got high with
Oscar Pistorius trial: Photographs of Paralympian splattered in blood shown in court
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Focus shifts west as Indian Ocean becomes latest search area for the aircraft and its passengers
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
- 1 Tony Benn meets Ali G: Watch Labour veteran burn Sacha Baron Cohen
- 2 Women do experience two different types of orgasm, study reveals
- 3 Tony Benn dead: Veteran Labour politician passes away at 88
- 4 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 5 Gauthier Soho has ranted against 'food blaggers' - so can we really trust online reviews?
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...