With pesticide spraying ruled out, the manager of the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge has turned to bats to fight a plague of mosquitoes.
With the help of youth conservation corps members, Manager Kevin Ryan is putting bat boxes on the south shore of Lake Lowell to entice brown bats that feast on the bloodsucking insects.
The idea came from a local resident as Ryan looked for a natural solution to the problem that has angered enough residents for petitions to be circulated to create a mosquito abatement district.
Ryan also wants to introduce a mosquito-eating fish to Lake Lowell, but the State Department of Fish and Game must first determine if the gambusia fish, which is not a native species, would have any adverse effect on the lake’s ecosystem.
Officials are still not sure what prompted the worst outbreak of mosquitoes in 14 years.
Ryan supports the creation of the abatement district as a safety valve in case health problems surface during future invasions.
But he wants to control the mosquitoes on the refuge naturally because pesticides could affect other insects beneficial to the ecosystem.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.