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Possible tool to fight Zika: Bats?

Posted at 10:39 AM, Aug 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-03 10:39:16-04

MIAMI, Fla. -- Authorities in Miami-Dade County are doing everything they can to battle an outbreak of the Zika virus in one neighborhood, and a key approach is keeping the number of mosquitoes down.  But is there one approach that's being overlooked?

County workers are attacking mosquitoes in the Wynwood area with chemical sprays from airplanes and by treating the standing water to kill the larvae of the Aedes aeqypti mosquito, which has been spreading the virus.

Enter the bat.

According to BatRescue.org, a single bat can devour up to 1,000 mosquitoes in one hour.

But while a population of bats in the area would certainly help, bat experts are uncertain how much of an effect they would have. "I certainly wouldn’t say don’t do it," bat expert Laura Finn tells the Miami New Times. "I think it’s a good thing. They won’t solve the problem, but they do contribute to reducing the numbers. Without bats, everything would be worse."

Other experts, however,  say the use of bats to fight Zika is unrealistic. "With these mosquitoes being most active just during dusk or dawn, it is a bit unrealistic to rely on bats to prevent the risk of the Zika virus," says Winfred Frick of Bat Conservation International.