Microbats and minimizing the mozzie menace in Melville
Not many people have heard of microbats but there are almost seventy species of these intriguing, little mammals native to Australia. Most are threatened or endangered, especially in the metropolitan areas where urbanization robs them of their homes in the hollows of trees. Ever since Mrs Dance cut down the first tree and settlers starting clearing the land the microbat population has come under increasing pressure and their numbers have diminished. We can help them to build their population back up closer to their natural levels by providing them with suitable roosting boxes where they can breed. With the help of Project Robin Hood and the Bicton Men’s Shed, we plan to provide 100 subsidized microbat roosting boxes to householders in the City of Melville and another 50 free to schools and community groups.
This will certainly help breed up the threatened microbat population but how will it help our community? Well, these little critters eat 40 to 50 percent of their own bodyweight in insect pests every night, including mosquitoes and fruit fly. Think about this. It may take months or years for the microbats to ‘find’ one of our roosting boxes, but when they do, it will provide a breeding home for up to an extra 40 to 50 insect-eating microbats.
Some incredible maths:
100 boxes x 40 microbats = 4,000 extra microbats, each eating 40% of their bodyweight every night.
That’s 4,000 x 34.4g = 137.6 kg. In a year that will be 365 x 137.6kg = 50,224kg or just over 50 tonnes.
Eating over 50 tonnes of insect pests a year must be a huge community benefit!
Many web sites claim microbats can eat 1,000 mosquitoes an hour but it is almost certainly less.
If our extra, little microbat mates ate just 10 mozzies a night that would be over 14 million mozzies munched in a full year. And if you’ve lucky one of those will be the one that kept you awake half the night! Apart from helping to save threatened and endangered microbats and potentially killing tonnes of insect pests including millions of mozzies; the major part of our project is to offer quality educational packages to our schools and information to the public about microbats and mosquitoes via fliers, displays and a purpose-built web site. We will tell you how to stop mosquitoes breeding and how to protect your family from serious mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus, Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin disease.
Be warned! Do not confuse our delightful, sophisticated, little microbats (that are virtually never seen or heard or smelled) with the well-known and highly visible megabats that can gather in huge numbers and be a nuisance with their noise and smell.Learning about native microbats is absolutely fascinating! And when you get to know them you will just love microbats.
Public health information – The City of Melville would like to remind the community to always take care when coming into contact with animals and in particular wildlife, and always practice safety and good personal hygiene to minimise the risk of injury or the transmission of infectious diseases. Both flying foxes and insectivorous bats have been known to carry Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) which is a form of rabies.