Bat House Construction Earns Eagle Rank for Boy Scout
For his Eagle Scout project, Evan Beierwaltes, 15, a member of Boy Scout Troop 175 in Niles, organized the construction of bat nursery houses. The project came about after talking to the Ecology Club sponsor, Mrs. Shelby Riha, at Maine East High School. The Ecology Club and science teachers were working to restore the Oak Savannah on the campus and wanted to add bat houses to the environment.
Bats are indicators of a healthy environment and can be important assets for insect control. For example, West Nile Virus is mostly spread by mosquitoes and they are a large portion of a bat’s diet. Research has shown that a small bat can eat more than 1,200 mosquitoes in a single hour. Bats cannot contract the West Nile Virus by eating infected mosquitoes. One of the most effective and environmentally friendly ways to reduce the mosquito population near your home is to install bat houses.
Evan researched and found construction plans for a 4-chamber bat nursery house. With his parents’ help, he found a gentleman who was skilled in wood working and agreed to assist with cutting and construction of the boxes. Materials and cash were donated to complete the project. Volunteers from the boy scout troop helped with the preparation and assembly. School maintenance installed the completed houses per Evan’s instructions regarding location, height, and orientation. The houses can be easily seen from the south side of the Oak Savannah.
Evan and the Ecology Club have high hopes for occupancy of the houses. They will have to be patient as it can take up to a year for bats to establish a home within the bat boxes. They will be watching for any activity over the next year and the telltale sign of bat droppings. As Evan said, “Unfortunately, you can’t just put up a vacancy sign.”