Waiting with patience for mosquito lovers to take up residence

Leslie Criss mugCOLUMN

“Mosquitoes remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think.”

Tom Wilson

“Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes?”

Author unknown

“On the bat’s back I do fly

After summer merrily.”

William Shakespeare Five years ago, a friend gave me a house-warming gift. It was built by her boyfriend out of cedar and it came with easy operating instructions.

Still and yet, I was skeptical, so I put it in an outdoor utility room and there it sat for about three years.

Two summers ago, I was sitting in the backyard of a neighbor. I’d been visiting for nearly an hour when I realized something seemed very different from my own backyard.

Not a single dastardly mosquito had drilled into my skin the entire time I’d been sitting there.

Yet, less than a half mile down the street, all I had to do was step out my back door and hundreds of blood-thirsty skeeters were dining on my limbs.

That’s probably a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

“Why do you have no mosquitoes in your yard,” I asked my neighbors.

The couple looked at each other, smiled and then pointed skyward.

I looked up and saw it. Hanging about 12 feet high, near the top of a pole, facing southeast.

It was a bat house.

“You’re kidding?” I said to my neighbors. “They really work?”

“They work amazingly well,” the couple, true believers, said in near unison.

I went home that evening determined to hang my own bat house and rid my yard of pesky mosquitoes.

Last summer, the house was hung, but I learned too late the house was facing the wrong direction, which apparently matters much to mosquitoes.

A month ago, a friend and co-worker agreed to climb a tall ladder and rehang the bat house facing the correct direction.

Since then, I’ve been practicing patience.

Some things I’ve read about bats and bat houses say it often takes a year for bats to take up residence in the bat house. Other articles claim it may take only a few months.

It really matters little to me when they arrive in my backyard; I just hope fervently they will move in at some point.

For lots of folks, the bat has a well deserved bad reputation. But they seem to have an amazing ability to control insects, especially disease-carrying mosquitoes. Many of the bats who call the United States home, thrive on an insect diet.

Several websites claim a single bat has the capacity to consume up to 1,200 mosquitoes every hour.

They also enjoy a delectible moth, fly and gnat on occasion.

Each evening when I walk into my backyard to gaze at my garden or play ball with George the dog, and slap at blood-sucking mosquitoes on my arms and legs, I look skyward.

I pray for patience.

And for bats.

leslie.criss@journalinc.com