He Runs a Hotel for Bats (Sep, 1940)

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He Runs a Hotel for Bats

PLAYING host to 250,000 bats is the queer but profitable hobby of Milton F. Campbell, of San Antonio, Tex. His lakeside bat hotel, a tall wooden tower shaped like the base of a windmill, is the outgrowth of experiments begun years ago by his father, Dr. Charles A. R. Campbell, at that time city bacteriologist of San Antonio. Believing that bats would rid the area of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, Dr. Campbell spent years trying to induce the creatures to settle in a wooden roost which he constructed near the city sewage plant. Finally, by means of ear-splitting phonograph records, which drove the bats from their accustomed haunts, he effected their transfer to his specially constructed tower.

Soon afterwards, residents of the region began to notice a decrease in the number of mosquitoes. A single bat, Dr. Campbell discovered by dissection studies, will consume as many as 3,750 of these pests during a single night’s feeding. Since its introduction, the Campbell bat roost has been a source of revenue as well as a laboratory for the study of the strange little creatures it houses. Visiting bats, tens of thousands of them that choke the interior and often hang in great bunches from the outside eaves, pay their rent by adding to the accumulation of guano in the roost.

Once a year, Campbell cleans this deposit from the interior, raking it down a chute at the bottom and sacking it up for sale. Bat guano is said to be a nearly perfect fertilizer. Sampled and labeled, as required by law, it sells for from five to ten cents a pound. Last year, the roost yielded nearly 6,000 pounds of guano. In fact, so profitable has the unique venture become that quantities of the special lure used for attracting bats, and detailed plans for establishing similar roosts, have been sold to prospective bat raisers in several parts of the country, with an eye to both profit and mosquito control.

  1. Caya says: May 13, 20077:56 am

    I think the Avocado pit carving is really very clever.

  2. KHarn says: March 9, 20082:24 pm

    This was tried in the Florida Keys to control the mosquito population. They built it, but they didn’t come!

  3. Saunders says: April 2, 20088:42 pm

    The bat hotel you mentioned is at Mile Marker 17 on U.S. 1 north of Key West. The millionaire that built the structure neglected to think that it takes more than a sign reading “Bat Hotel” to attract the bats to the structure, hence no bats were attracted to it. The idea is still a good one though. In the jungle where bats are numerous but accommodations are scarce, bats frequently inhabit any concealed nook in the top of structures that are built, unless they are prevented from doing so. A bat hotel built in the jungle could illustrate its usefulness over the current DDT that is persistently sprayed over jungle areas in impoverished countries.

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