Adapted from the Diocese of West Texas
If all goes well, someday TMI–The Episcopal School of Texas in San Antonio will have more bats than students. The school has installed two new bat houses Sept. 26 with an eye toward natural pest control and other benefits.
“We are expected to get some migratory bats soon, in October, if they decide to stay in our bat houses,” said Sherry Lim, the school’s director of outdoor education. “We could have a potential of 600 bats.”
The school, which has 474 students, wants to share its wooded, 83-acre campus with bats because the nocturnal mammals can:
- Consume up to two-thirds of their body weight in insects every night
- Produce guano that can function as soil moisturizer and fertilizer
- Give students the experience of natural solutions to environmental challenges
Funded by a grant from the school’s family association, the bat houses were installed in the school garden and near a creek that could be the hoped-for colony’s source of water. Hand-built by Lone Star Woodcraft, the structures are certified as bat-friendly by Bat Conservation International’s Austin office.
The new residents should decrease mosquitoes in the student-tended school garden. The resulting guano is “gold to the garden,” said Lim, who also teaches seventh-grade life science.
The bats also may indirectly keep young gardeners more comfortable: “We are practicing organic gardening practices with the plants we have out there now. We are trying to keep the garden green and did not want to put chemicals out there to get rid of the mosquitoes.”
Now that TMI has built a habitat, will bats visit?
“In October, San Antonio has quite a few species of bats that migrate,” said Lim. “Chances of us getting migratory bats very soon are quite a possibility. They will have a home in the garden.”
Founded in 1893 as Texas Military Institute, TMI is a private, coeducational, college-preparatory school for grades 6-12, with optional Junior ROTC and boarding programs.