USC to entice insect-eating microbats to campus | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC to entice insect-eating microbats to campus

In a university recruitment drive with a difference, USC Fraser Coast is encouraging mighty mosquito-eating microbats to move on to campus.

As part of a collaborative research project with the Fraser Coast Microbats Society, USC Animal Ecology students will install several boxes in trees around the Hervey Bay campus to provide the tiny, threatened bats with shelter, roosting and nesting sites.

USC Animal Ecology Lecturer Dr Dominique Potvin said the project would help increase microbat populations while reducing the numbers of annoying mosquitos and midges.

It would also provide students with a platform for ongoing research that could be published internationally.

“Students will monitor the boxes and record data on regional bat populations and the health of our local ecosystems,” Dr Potvin said.

The protected flying mammal can weigh as little as three grams and provides a vital service by feasting on pest insects such as weevils, midges, flying termites and disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Some Queensland microbat species are known to eat an average of 400 mosquitoes in a single night.

“Pest control of mosquitoes and midges in the region is a hot political topic, with politicians promising hundreds of thousands of dollars to reduce biting insects, most likely in the form of chemical control,” Dr Potvin said.

“Bat boxes are a natural and relatively cheap alternative to insect control, with each box costing around $40 and capable of housing families of two to 10 bats.

“In the whole of the USA, bats are worth around $23 billion in pest suppression, with a recent study in Texas showing that microbats saved farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in stopping losses from insect-related damages.”

The Fraser Coast Microbat group will host an information display in the USC Library foyer at Hervey Bay from 22-24 November for people interested in installing the boxes around their own properties.

— Clare McKay

USC Animal Ecology Lecturer Dr Dominique Potvin
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