These college students are interning at the Houston Zoo in a special paid program.
Victoria Sokol is the Zoo’s manager of education programs.
“This is our collegiate conservation program sponsored by ExxonMobil. It’s a program where ten interns get the opportunity to learn all about developing conservation education programs. So their project that they’ve chosen to focus on is about urban wildlife and educating families within the Houston community — all about the wildlife they can find in their backyard.”
Like bats. Contrary to popular myth, bats do not get entangled in human hair, nor are they any more prone to rabies than most other animals. There is a species in Latin America that takes a blood meal from cattle and is called the vampire bat. But when you think of it, mosquitoes do that to us all the time.
Sokol says one of the most effective and environmentally friendly ways to reduce the mosquito population at home is with a bat house.
“The bat houses themselves are actually fairly small, but they can house about 300 bats.”
Anita Taylor with ExxonMobil says the collegiate conservation program is fairly new but gaining in popularity:
“This is only our second year. We’re hoping to continue this program, because we see that there’s a value added, both for the interns who are taking some very valuable lessons back into the classroom with them and getting some practical knowledge and work. But it’s also a value to the agencies that they work with, both to the zoo and also various conservation agencies in the area.”
Zoe Lapowski is studying Environmental Science at the UH. She found making a bat house pretty easy.
“It’s not very hard, and one of these can house about 300 bats.”
Hernandez: “The value of having something like this, tell me about that.”
Lapowski: “Well bats are really great pollinators, so it’s gonna really help the environment. And not only that, they eat millions of mosquitoes and no one likes those.”
Alison Hicke from Texas A&M says she found the value in her short bat house construction class.
“And I can actually even like, apply it back to my major, since I’m into Animal Science. I learn about a lot of cattle and everything, and they have to deal with mosquitoes, so they could easily put one of these up, and help with mosquito populations around their animals.”
So today’s lesson is that most North American bats are capable of polishing off hordes of mosquitoes every night.