Bat Habitats Keep Pests Away from UVA Grounds
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia has some extra wildlife flying around and some people on grounds want to keep these creatures for a reason that may surprise you. Across grounds you may spot what looks like a very tall birdhouse but don't get too close because it's likely filled with bats.
They might creep some people out, but UVA facilities management said they're actually a big help across grounds. UVA's Dell Pond is dotted with wildlife but nearby you may spot something unfamiliar.
“They're great with insect control, particularly mosquitoes, mosquito control,” said Donald Sundgren, with UVA Facilities Management.
All those bats act as a natural pest control. A common bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour. The idea started with UVA alum Chris Rannefors.
“There had to be better, more natural solutions to pest control especially during this time when everyone is so afraid of mosquitoes,” said Rannefors, co-founder of BatBnB.
Facilities management contacted Rannefors for the houses after finding a few of the furry creatures in the McCormick Road dorms.
“The bats being outside the residence halls are a good thing, right? Get them out of there, and it provided a home for them and a home in a good location for them, so it's a win all the way around,” said Sundgren.
Those BatBnB’s are designed specifically for bats. The guards prevent snakes and other predators from harming them.
“It's really the vertical chambers, right? So they're grooved surfaces on the vertical chambers so the bats will fly onto the landing pads and then they'll climb up inside these chambers that are super tight,” said Rannefors.
Several of the BatBnB’s are along the university's stormwater management stream, a popular spot for mosquitoes and students.
“We put them intentionally along this frequently used pedestrian walk, from residence halls and all over to central grounds so that people could see them,” said Sundgren. “People sometimes think or have thought from the Dracula days that bats are scary and all that.”
So despite the creatures’ reputation, many UVA staff members are choosing to look on the bat's side.
“Facilities Management and the University of Virginia are very large on sustainability initiatives and while some people might have a tough time linking bats up to that, I don't have trouble with that at all, it's just looking after more of our wildlife,” said Sundgren.
There are several other locations around grounds where you can spot the bat houses including around Carr's Hill Field and the South Garage at the end of Monroe Lane.