MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On the ground and from the air, it has been an all-out blitz to eradicate mosquitoes spreading the Zika virus in Miami Beach and Miami.
On the beach Wednesday, city commissioners enjoyed a few laughs as the serious effort took a “batty” turn.
“Bats are the most interesting little creatures,” said Commissioner Kristin Rosen Gonzalez.
Gonzalez wants to bring bats to the mosquito battle.
Bats have a voracious appetite for the bugs. A single bat can consume thousands of them every hour.
At its website, the American Mosquito Control association cautions however that “to utilize them as the sole measure of control would be folly… considering both mosquitoes and bats transmit diseases.”
One commissioner would beat back the bats at all costs.
“I don’t know why we want to introduce these creatures, that are like flying rodents, into our community,” said Commissioner Joy Malakoff.
But bat boosters counter there have been no bat-borne outbreaks of disease in the U.S. and the upside on bats beats the downside.
“It’s more likely that a squirrel in your backyard is going to come and accost you, rather than a bat,” said Commissioner Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said she doesn’t want to blanket the beach with bats, but to extend an olive branch to residents who protested the aerial spraying of a controversial pesticide.
“I’m not expecting bat houses to be built all around Miami Beach, but in a few parks it would be a great idea,” Gonzalez said.
With all the bat talk there had to be a Batman joke, and Mayor Philip Levine was at the ready.
“It’s funny. I actually got a request from a guy named Bruce Wayne. It’s so weird,” Levine said to laughter in the commission chamber.
“I love bats,” said Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman. “I would like them to build a bat house in my yard.”
At that point someone’s cellphone began playing the theme music from Batman. More laughter.
Gonzalez belted out her case for bats joining the Zika battle.
“I hope the commission passes it and doesn’t just think I’m batty,” Gonzalez said, with a wide smile.
In the end the commission voted to allow the city manager to explore building one or two small bat houses, probably in a city park or two.
Technically, Miami-Dade County is in charge of the mosquito eradication effort.
A spokesperson for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, however, that any municipality is free to enact additional eradication measures, provided they are legal and safe.
The county has no plans to enlist bat houses in the mosquito control effort, relying on the bats that gobble up the bugs at large.
If you build it, they may not come.
A large bat house erected in the lower keys in 1929, at huge expense at that time, has never attracted a single bat.