if you build a bat house, will they come?

chez farm has a terrible mosquito problem. i mean, really terrible. we have a stockpile of insect repellant products and i spend the summer on a constant dose of claritin to keep from scratching my skin entirely off. it’s the only thing we don’t love about our garden. the problem is that most of the lot our house sits on (with the exception of the section of our garden where our vegetable beds are) is shaded by big old trees, flowering bushes, and a lot of creeping ivy and hostas. it’s very pretty, but it leaves lots of cool damp places for mosquitoes to breed. we make a constant effort to clear away leaves and brush piles and try not to let standing water accumulate, but it’s a never-ending battle. we’re also located about two blocks from the east river and on a street with more big old trees, so nearly everyone else on the block also has shady gardens with only pockets of sunny spots. it makes for a beautiful neighborhood that stays cooler in the summer, but it’s also a mosquito paradise.

i was complaining about the mosquitos one day and my brother-in-law mentioned that we should get bats. turns out that bats definitely eat mosquitos, although there is some debate among scientists as to whether having bats around will really noticeably reduce your mosquito population problem or not. anyway, farmer woob was walking down our street one night at dusk with a colleague who’s a birder and they are sure they saw a bat fly by. the next week, the colleague bought us a bat house and we hung it up high outside the house with some good southern exposure, as recommended.

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it can take up to two years before any bats actually move into a new bat house (and there’s really no guarantee that any ever will), but at least we know there are bats living in the neighborhood. if i were a bat, i can’t think of a better place to live than a nice new bat house in a garden with an all-you-can-eat mosquito buffet.

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if you were a bat, wouldn’t you want to live here too?

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