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Mosquitoes drive us bats

Staff writer

Mosquitoes suck. They feast on human blood. Their bites itch.

And they’re building thier ranks by laying eggs in standing water left over from recent rains.

Still, there is hope in the perpetual battle against the bloodsucking hoard.

City crews will spray Central Park and fog the rest of town before Chingawassa Days, street superintendent Marty Fredrickson says.

Crews take a fog truck out at night, when wind dies down, so fog will stick to trees and heavy vegetation mosquitoes live in, he said.

“The fog burns their wings off,” Fredrickson said. “Spraying is expensive, but it helps control the West Nile virus and other viruses they can transmit.”

City crews also toss “mosquito briquettes” into ditches and other areas where water collects.

“I hope the animal rights activists don’t come after us,” he said. “What we use suffocates their larvae.”

The time-releasing tablets put a coating on top of the water that prevents larva from surfacing for oxygen.

Mosquitoes, however, are a resilient adversary, and they typically do not require much time or space to procreate.

“Their reproduction cycle can be as short as a few days,” Bruce Rhodes, recently retired Marion High School science teacher, said. “They like the pooled water in ditches but can lay eggs in anything that catches water, like something as small as pop can or even a child’s dump truck that hasn’t been played with for a while.”

Rhodes and Fredrickson agreed people should empty outdoor containers that have collected water to help keep mosquitos in check.

Humans are not alone in the fight, however. We have flora and fauna allies.

Lavender, marigolds, and citronella grass are among plants thought to repel mosquitoes naturally, while bass, bluegill, and catfish prey on mosquito larvae, and birds like purple martins, seek and destroy mosquitoes.

Marion residents Paige Brunner and Chris Costello also recently took steps to recruit creatures of the night known to target the miniature vampires.

“I hate mosquitoes,” Brunner said. “Chris hardly gets bit. My daughter, Preston, and I welt-up terribly when they bite us.”

Their answer: installing a bat house in their backyard.

“Bats are cool because they eat mosquitoes,” Preston said.

Brunner discovered that bats could be attracted.

“I read that the bats we have like to roost in open areas,” she said. “I had Chris install our bat house on a pole in our backyard.”

Some bats like dark houses, she said, but local are supposed to like a lighter color.

“There are no bats in the bat house just yet,” Brunner said. “But we’re on the deck out back a lot. I expect to know when the bats are there because of what we’ll see underneath their house.”

In a word, guano.

Last modified June 3, 2015

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