The Town of North Hempstead is rolling out the welcome mat for bats in the town by placing numerous bat boxes in parks, with the goal of reducing the population of disease-carrying mosquitoes. The town currently has bat boxes at Manorhaven Beach Park, Harbor Links Golf Course, Clark Botanic Garden, Plandome Pond Park, Whitney Pond Park and the Hempstead Harbor Trail, and plans to add more, with the help of Boy Scouts of America, who are building bat boxes as part of their Eagle Scout project.
“In the Town of North Hempstead we are trying to promote alternative methods to control pesky and disease-borne insects, such as mosquitoes, which are carriers of West Nile Virus among other diseases,” Town Supervisor Jodi Bosworth said. “Pesticide use kills beneficial insects, birds and other life, as well as the insects they target, and poisons our environment. Bat boxes provide an ecologically safe approach to controlling mosquitoes and other pests in our parks.”
“We know that it works because of the myriad of trials around the country where these boxes are in place and bats are busy eating their way through the bugs,” said Ranger Eric Powers, host of North Hempstead TV’s nature show Off The Trail. “We must create the opportunity for the bats to live and exist so that they can eat their way through the mosquito population.”
Manhasset teen Yianni Biniaris is working with the town’s Parks and Recreation Department to install more bat houses in town parks as part of his Eagle Scout Project for Troop 71. Biniaris’ focus is on areas with still waters and small streams where mosquitoes tend to congregate, including Leeds Pond, Plandome Pond and Harbor Links Golf Course.
Kevin Braun, the town’s environmental control specialist, who is also a proponent of the bat houses, said, “The effectiveness is hard to quantify, but we know that bats eat flying insects, including mosquitoes, so it is not a great leap of faith to say that more bat boxes, means more bats and less mosquitoes.”
According to Braun, other state parks use bat boxes including Hither Hills in Montauk, where they are located outside the bathroom, because at night, the lights attract flying insects.
The Town of North Hempstead also uses essential oils, such as rosemary, citronella and insecticidal soaps to spray for pests.
For more information on the town’s pest-control efforts, please call 311.