The war against Zika could have a new front line in the form of furry winged mammals.
On Wednesday, the Miami Beach City Commission formally asked Miami-Dade County to explore the use of bats to combat Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species that carries the Zika virus, after Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez proposed the city build one test bat house.
“I created this resolution as a goodwill gesture because we had a lot of controversy,” said Rosen Gonzalez, referring to the brouhaha over the aerial spraying of the insecticide naled, which is a neurotoxin used to control the mosquito population in agricultural areas. It was sprayed over South Beach four times in September, leading to public outcry.
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Rosen Gonzalez acknowledged that bats may not be a useful tool to combat Zika mosquitoes because Aedes aegypti typically fly near urban dwellings at dusk and dawn. Bats feed at night.
But she asked the city to consider one bat house as way to show the city wants to try alternatives to chemicals in mosquito control.
Commissioner Joy Malakoff was adamantly against the idea, saying bats can carry their own diseases.
“I don’t know why we would want to introduce bats, which are like flying rodents, into our community,” she said.
She was the lone “no” vote when the commission resolved to ask the county to look into bat houses.