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Batty solution to France's increasing mosquito problem

A Town in the Gironde has gone back to nature in search of a cost-effective way to solve its growing mosquito problem.

Bats are natural predators for the insects and eat up to 2,000 each a day. So Bègles, just south of Bordeaux, has installed bat and swallow nesting boxes.

By the end of 2018, some 100 boxes were in place on public buildings across the town – and the mairie is offering 100 householders a €10 refund if they buy and install a box themselves.

The boxes are seen as a cheap, effective and permanent solution to the increasing numbers of mosquitoes in the town every year.

Mosquitoes, including tiger mosquitoes which have spread to 62 departments in France including the Gironde, are known to carry a number of viruses, including dengue fever, the zika virus and the chikungunya virus.

Symptoms of dengue and chikungunya include severe joint pain, fever, headaches, weeping eyes and a rash. Every year, from May to November, health authorities in France are on high alert for the possible spread of diseases carried by mosquitoes.

It is not the only step that authorities in the town have taken.

Bègles is one of an increasing number of communes in France to turn off their street lights for a portion of the night. As well as cutting costs and reducing light pollution, the move helps the local bat population, said mayor Clément Rossignol Puech.

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