Only In America . . . TM

Copyright © 2002 Frank G. Van Atta. All rights reserved.


If you're planning an outdoor party at night and don't want your guests to be bothered by mosquitoes, moths, and other flying insects, then you have two choices: have your party in the dark or invite a few bats over to eat the bugs.

For those of you who don't have any bats of your own and don't know anyone who will loan you a couple, Dan Silverstone runs a unique little business called Rent-A-Bat that will rent you all the bats you need for only $1 per bat per night.

"This is the time of the year when one of the most pleasant places to be in the evening is in the back yard--if you don't mind sharing it with a few thousand flying, biting, and stinging insects," Silverstone says. "And the only way to get rid of these flying pests is to have a dozen or so very hungry bats in your back yard."

"I've tried all of the conventional methods of getting rid of night-flying insects," Silverstone told us, "including smoke bombs, insecticides, and those electric gizmos that attract the bugs and then fry them. But nothing really worked until I tried bats."

It seems that Silverstone attended a party at a friend's house one night and was impressed by the fact that he didn't see a single flying insect in over three hours. When he remarked about how bug free the back yard was, his host explained that he used to have a lot of trouble with bugs--until a colony of bats took up residence in his barn.

"Those bats have some kind of radar that homes in on bugs," he explained, "and every one of them can eat their weight in bugs. They've just about eaten every bug on the place, so I expect they'll be looking for a new place to live pretty soon."

Silverstone was so impressed that he contacted the bat experts at the Department of Natural Resources. "I found out that bats are the only animals that eat bugs at night," he said, "and each bat can eat as many as 3000 bugs every night. Well, I figured that most folks would be willing to pay a few bucks to get rid of bugs, so all I had to do was find out where to buy enough bats to rent out and I would be in business."

Silverstone went to Mexico and bought 15,000 fruit bats. "The next thing I needed was a place to keep all those bats," he said, "so I started looking around for a big cave. Well, as you know, there aren't many caves in this part of the country, so I had to keep the bats in my barn while I looked for one. And that was the luckiest thing I did, because they felt right at home in my barn--and I have a pretty profitable side business selling bat guano for fertilizer."

One of the earliest problems Silverstone had to solve was how to keep his rented bats from straying so that he always got them back. "I tried tying a string around one of their legs, but that didn't work out too well. If I made the string too short they couldn't reach all the bugs, and if I made it too long, they would get all tangled up."

He finally solved the problem by teaching the bats to return to his barn whey the sun comes up. "That way folks can just come in, pick up a dozen bats, and take 'em home and turn 'em loose. I know they'll come back the next morning no matter what. I've been in business two years now and I haven't lost a bat yet."

Copyright © 2002 Frank G. Van Atta. All rights reserved.