SOUTH MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s safe to say no one really likes mosquitoes, and the county receives dozens of calls to spray to get rid of them.
But, one South Florida city wants the spraying to stop in hopes of saving an endangered bat.
South Miami has passed a resolution designating the city as a wildlife sanctuary in order to protect the endangered Florida Bonneted Bat.
“I went to the Federal register to see why they’re endangered, and what I learned was they’re endangered because of spraying for mosquitoes. I was horrified,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said.
Stoddard, who is also a biology professor at Florida International University, joined a group of bat watchers at a golf course in Coral Gables Monday night.
Using echolocation equipment, he tracked the bats as they swooped above the green.
He was joined by fellow FIU biology professor, Kristen Bohn.
“Bats aren’t afraid of us,” Bohn said. “People don’t realize that bats are everywhere.”
Bohn explained bats’ meal of choice consists of insects, including those pesky mosquitoes we’ve been dealing with lately in South Florida.
“I’m not a fan on mosquitoes myself, or the heat, but the problem is when you spray for mosquitoes, you kill everything else,” Bohn said.
She said bats are a natural form of mosquito control.
She added aerial sprays like ones done recently in Miami-Dade County are wiping out the bats’ food supply.
“Bats have very fast metabolism, so 3 days without food and they’re dead,” Bohn explained.
Stoddard knows residents in his city are bothered by bugs.
Between June 1st and July 16th, the county received and responded to 25 requests for mosquito control within South Miami city limits.
With the passing of his resolution, spraying would only be allowed in certain situations when the bugs pose a health risk, as in recent cases of Dengue Fever and Chikungunya in Miami-Dade.
“Disease control is still foremost on our minds. We’re not abandoning the residents. We have not taken leave of our senses,” Stoddard said. “We are following the best practices that have been established across the entire planet for controlling mosquitoes.”
Stoddard believes the best way to get rid of mosquitoes is by controlling the water sources where they breed instead of spraying insecticides that can kill all other bugs, too.