This batty professor's mosquito solution could make you squirm

Saint Mary's College Professor Laura Kloepper inspects a bat specimen// WSBT 22 Photo

You have probably noticed how mosquitoes have multiplied after flooding in August. A local professor has a suggestion that might make some of you squirm: bats! Bats do eat insects, but mosquitoes are not one of their favorite meals. Still, the mammals could put a dent in the local mosquito population. There is just one problem: the bat population across the country is struggling to survive.

"We simply have this big boom of mosquitoes right now due to all the water that's in the area," Saint Mary's Biology Professor Laura Kloepper said.

Kloepper said few people can better describe the wrath of Michiana mosquitoes than her students.

"I have this jacket even though it's about 80 degrees outside just so I don't get stung on my arms because last time we were out here I think it was about ten on each leg," freshman Marlen Terrazas said.

Freshman introduction to biology students have been doing field work in the woods behind the college, but they say the mosquitoes are pesky even just when walking between campuses.

"You're sitting in class and you're trying to focus, but you're scratching your leg like crazy," Terrazas said.

Kloepper said bug spray and foggers are not always the best solution for mosquito elimination.

"We've already caused enough damage to our environment. Why don't we let nature do its course and work on natural pest control solutions?" Kloepper asked.

Her natural solution is bats! She just took a Summer research trip with two students.

"Bats need friends too! Bats are so important for the ecosystem," Kloepper said.

The Professor said the mammals save farmers billions on pest control. While they prefer a juicy moth, one bat can eat about 600 to 1,000 mosquitoes in just one night.

"If we had a large thriving bat population they would certainly be eating lots of mosquitoes," Kloepper said.

Unfortunately, Kloepper added, a fungus has been moving across the country, decreasing some bat populations by 80%. Plus, bats do not exactly have the best reputation, but Kloepper wants to see that change.

"If you have bats in your house don't be afraid. As long as they're not in your living space. You want bats in your attic," Kloepper said.

To get those bats in your neighborhood Professor Kloepper said you can build bat houses in your yard to encourage them.

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