The Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower: Mosquito Control Scheme That Didn’t Work

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In 1929, a frustrated Florida’s Lower Keys’ fish lodge owner named Richter Clyde Perky decided that it was time to rid his holiday resort of mosquitoes. He figured out a smart, environmentally friendly and economical solution – introduce natural predators to the area – bats. His idea was to invest in a structure called a Bat Tower, the invention of a Texan ‘Bat Researcher’ by the name of Dr. Campbell who believed that the towers would provide an attractive home for bats to roost. The bats in return would eat the mosquitoes. Mr Perky installed the huge wooden Bat Tower at great cost and shipped in hundreds of bats from Texas and Cuba. Unfortunately, the Bat Tower never worked out the way he would have liked. As soon as the bats were released they flew away, never to return.

Out of 14 Bat Towers designed by Dr. Charles Campbell, only three are still standing today - the Perky Tower, one in Comfort, Texas, and one at the Shangri-La Gardens in Orange, Texas. At least one of the Texas towers has been internally reconstructed so that bats currently roost in it. The ruins of a fourth Campbell tower, in Temple Terrace, Florida, burned in 1979 and now consists of the concrete base and legs.

Since 1982, the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower has been on the U.S. Register of Historic Places.


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