CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) -
People in western Massachusetts have an unexpected ally in the war against mosquitoes. Experts say that bats are the most natural repellent.
That's why Chicopee's Mayor, Michael Bissonnette, in partnership with the Home Depot, hosted a Build a Bat House Workshop on Saturday. Dozens of families armed with hammers and bottles of glue fought mosquitoes by making bat houses inside the Chicopee Home Depot.
"I'm building a bat house to get rid of mosquitoes in our yard. Because I'm allergic to them," said 11-year-old Kacee Pittman of Chicopee.
He was one of nearly 200 kids who took turns and lined up assembly-line style to make hundreds of bat houses; each house can hold up to two bats.
"The first thing they do is nail the front on, then they flip it over, nail the back on. And then they nail the roof on and drive a dolly stick through a pre-drilled hole, so the bats can hang inside," said Ralph Hendrick.
Hendrick works at the Home Depot's Hardware Department. He's also a carpenter and hand crafted hundreds of kits to make the assembly of the bat house easy for the children.
The effort to combat growing populations of mosquitoes follows the continued threat of West Nile Virus in western Massachusetts. Chicopee Health Department officials were at the workshop and spoke with families about how they can prevent the virus.
"We had some exposures last year in western Massachusetts. So we've begun by pre-treating all of the ponds, retention ponds and bodies of water that are public in Chicopee," said Mayor Bissonnette on Saturday morning.
The workshop also allowed Chicopee merchants like David Pikul to showcase other types of bat houses; ones that can hold up to 300 bats. A bat specialist even fielded questions about the misconceptions surrounding these beady-eyed creatures.
"One bat will eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. There's a big misconception about bats and it's good that the kids are here learning about them and learning that they are really good for the environment. They don't get tangled in your hair, they don't want to get tangled in your hair - they are smarter than that," said the Bat Bungalow owner.
For tips on how to prevent West Nile Virus, click here.