Torrevieja Town Hall, water company AGAMED and CTL Plague Control have started the second phase of their Bat Conservation Programme, which involves the installation and monitoring of new bat houses to shelter these threatened mammals.
Councillor Fanny Serrano explained they have obtained 50 of these wooden boxes which will be installed “in places frequented by bats and other places where it is hoped they will come back to”. AGAMED and CTL have contributed another 10 boxes, which are different and made of cement and wood to test which type is more effective.
Municipal biologist Juan Antonio Pujol said bat houses are more complex than bird houses because bats use them not just to raise young but as a refuge in winter or during migration. Their sensitivity means the orientation and height of the boxes must be chosen appropriately to guarantee they will be used. A detailed study of the bat population was necessary first and then they must be monitored so that unoccupied boxed can be moved to better locations.
Joaquín Bernabeú of CTL said Torrevieja is the only place that has done this monitoring and noted it is important because these mammals can reduce the use of pesticides because they can eat 10% of their weight in mosquitoes.
The new boxes will be installed around the sewage plant and less built up areas of the town. The Town Hall put up 15 boxes around the sewage plant and salt lakes in 2012, 70% of which have been occupied and others are being relocated.
Pujol also said that bats help to fight plagues like mosquitoes, processionary caterpillars and European grapevine moths, especially in areas that are difficult to access with conventional pesticides. In one night a single bat can eat up to 1,000 insects, or even up to 3,000 for females with young.
As well as these services that the bats provide, the Programme is also intended to restore their populations and improve Torrevieja’s biodiversity, as well as to reduce incidents of bats causing problems by settling in people’s houses.