That we can build a home for bats in a scientific manner to meet the
requirements of their most singular habits: a home which they will inhabit and
where, being protected from their enemies, they will increase in countless
numbers and eradicate the malaria in the vicinities where the homes are erected.
When primitive man wanted sweets, he would arm himself with a stone axe, find a bee-tree, and maul it down. Doubtless he made a mess of the entire affair, and worked under great difficulties; but he got the honey. Modern man has his "bee-tree" in his back yard; he provides himself with an intricate little box, which he calls a "hive," and, without the least difficulty or any messing up of things, he gets all the honey he wants. He has learned all about the habits of this wild insect, and has provided it with a home, which can be moved about where he pleases, while the bees give him the delicious fruit of their labor.
Very many thoughts of this nature crossed the author's mind, long before this work had even a good theoretical basis. It was realized that the burning question, the great desideratum, would be (if the work were ever to be brought to a reasonable degree of perfection), "Can bats like bees be colonized and made to multiply where we want them?" If this could not be done, there would be little use in continuing a work that would represent only scientific value, when the fundamental idea was to accomplish the eradication of that world-wide disease, malaria, which Nature intended man, and man only, to carry.
Original Bat Roost.
As we are dealing with a wild creature whose home is in the mountain wilderness, miles from the haunts of man, perhaps we can provide it with a home in civilization, where we can take advantage of its wonderful habits. Oh, pshaw, this would be no feat at all! Don't we see bats coming out from behind old chimneys, from old buildings, barns, and where not? Don't they just live in any old ramshackle building? They would be only too glad to have a little home such as we provide for our song birds, swallows, etc.
These were the thoughts which, for the lack of mental gravity, or to put it in less kindly terms, because of ignorance, were put into practice, as far back as 1905, five years before sufficient information had been acquired to justify its being brought to the attention of the medical profession.UNSUCCESSFUL COLONIZATION ATTEMPTS
Beginning with the year 1902, one bolt of cheese cloth was unfurled, placed on the floor of a large cave thickly tenanted by bats, and allowed to remain there about three months. At the end of that time it was completely covered with from four to six inches of guano, and of course saturated with the odor of that excrement. There was a dual purpose in employing the cloth; first, that it might carry the odor, and secondly that the cloth would afford a good medium for the bats to hang upon.
With this odoriferous cloth, quite a number of boxes of different sizes and construction were lined and placed on trees in different localities. Some were inserted in old buildings, some under country bridges (which are a favorite haunt for bats in the summer), and some in large warehouses and in livery stables. Others were located on large trees near a cave inhabited by millions of bats. At the author's home, in his back yard, in a very large pecan tree, a box was put, as bats were seen toward evening and at night flying around this old monarch; also one was placed under his front gallery. These were then relegated to Father Time, and the work continued.
The boxes were substantially built to withstand the weather for several years. The second year, as much as a pound of fresh guano was added to each box, though the cheese cloth still retained its odor. The boxes all withstood the weather very well for several years, but that is about all they did do; no bat ever adopted them for a home. There was, however, one exceptional case, where two boxes were fastened to the rafters of a roof in a stable, where thousands of bats had congregated, and these boxes they entered, only because they occupied space the bats had been occupying before.
One very cold morning in January, when the bats were hibernating, one box was unfastened from the stable rafters and taken to a barn some four miles distant where the box was similarly fastened to the rafters of the barn. When the season for their flight began the following month, they left the box, and never returned. The box experiments were a most dismal failure, but as it is by the failures we make that we eventually succeed, and from the further fact that very early in the study of bats the author realized that the path to success was not "strewn with roses," he was prepared for all events, come what might, success or failure.
The failure of the box experiment appeared to indicate one of the most important features of colonization, in that bats always prefer a large building; for they will invariably occupy such a building, even if only temporarily, in preference to an adjacent smaller one. It can be readily surmised that the making of all of these experiments and observations out in the woods entailed not only a great deal of time, but considerable expense, and all of this had to come from the lucrative (?) occupation of practicing medicine for a living.
Improved Bat Roost. "My Monument."
It was beyond the author's means to erect a large building, so he called in a wealthy farmer, and explained to himthe situation as far as it then had been developed, requesting him to build such a structure on his farm, adding that if it became tenanted by bats, they would protect his family from malaria, and the guano would prove a little gold mine. This request was made to several men of wealth; in fact, the author was assuming the role of the poor inventor, with the fate that usually follows such an individual—he was turned down. The theory was fine, all admitted, but no practical results had yet been obtained.
There was nothing left for the author to do but to build a bat roost or abandon the work;—the latter was unthinkable. After months of most rigid economy, and through the aid of a good friend, the first bat roost was built at a cost of $500.00, on ground controlled by the local United States Experiment Farm. Inside were principally shelves placed at an incline for the bats to roost upon. There were also placed there three perfectly good hams with a nice slice cut out of the side of each, exhibiting their splendid quality for the delectation of the intended guests.
That they might be induced to believe that their own kind were making the roost their home, about 100 pounds of fresh guano was placed in the hopper, and about 20 yards of very odoriferous cheese cloth, which had been buried in the guano of a bat cave, was spread out on the inside and tacked on the blank wall opposite the entrance, in order to expose as much surface as possible. Several cords of mesquite wood were stacked around the roost. The mesquite tree is closely related to the tree that produces the gum Arabic, and its wood is readily attacked by all sorts of boring insects, so that bats are attracted by it and can be seen flying around and around an old mesquite pile for a long time, catching the small insects as they fly out of the wood. This feature was adopted with a view to attracting bats to the roost; also there were placed three alcohol barrels with the heads knocked out and filled with water to breed mosquitoes. This latter feature was not very long lived, as it served its purpose too well to suit the convenience of the keeper of the Farm; he proceeded to treat the uncovered surface of each water barrel with a good film of kerosene oil, thereby destroying the larvae that were developing into mosquitoes, intended to attract the bats.
As the roost had been erected on the premises only by ordinary consent, although it was an "experimental" farm, a protest would have been answered by a request to move, from which there would have been no recourse. As the owner of the roost had put into it not only his last dime, but many more dimes he had not yet earned, there was nothing left to do but to grin and bear it. However, a little experience was gained.
Another feature was added to the experiment with this roost, and that was the placing of a bright light shining on its front at night. An out-of-door lantern with a strong reflector was mounted on a post, something on the order of an old fashioned street lamp, some 50 or 60 feet away from the structure, and one of the farm hands, for a small consideration, attended to the lighting, extinguishing, filling, and general care of the lamp. This was done that the light might attract mosquitoes and other small insects to the vicinity of the roost.
In the course of a short time the experimenter saw what he thought was room for improvement in his bat roost, and having gone to so much expense already, he went deeper, to the extent of $260.00 more, making an outlay of $760.00 cash. This was in the spring of 1910, when materials and labor were very cheap. After completing the improvements, a space on the inside, 2 feet high, 2 feet wide, and 5 feet long between the shelves was walled off with bobbinet, and between four and five hundred bats were placed therein. It was hoped that the odor assisted by the light and the high squeaking of the imprisoned bats, might attract some of the nocturnal aerial passers-by of their own kind and cause them to enter where they would be so welcome. If they entered, they would surely find the juicy hams and then, having no further need for the struggle for food, would remain.A CASUAL BAT ROOST
The illustration marked "Main Building Fair Grounds," was a large exhibition building employed in connection with an annual fair held in San Antonio, but unused for several years. It was on these grounds that Colonel Roosevelt recruited and organized his famous Rough Riders, the men using this building as sleeping quarters. In certain selected and isolated spots therein bats found lodgment to their liking and utilized them as roosting places. Here the observations made during the box experiments were confirmed as to the preference of bats for large and high buildings. In only a very few places and in correspondingly small numbers were the animals to be found, and then always in very high locations.
In almost all large, abandoned buildings bats will be found in great numbers for a short time only during midsummer, when they are migrating in search of food. At this time, however, they do not select hiding places, as they hang exposed from the ceilings, cross pieces, beams, etc.; but they do not remain for any length of time. From this large building towards evening the bats fairly swarmed out for two or three hours in one continuous stream. The building was kept under observation by the author and the night watchman for a number of years. It was invariably during the first week in the month of August that the bats arrived —generally about two or three o'clock in the morning. This arrival was so well timed, that it seldom passed the first week in that month. They were but temporarily sojourning in this building. The only ones that remained were those that had found suitable hiding places; and these were permanent tenants.
During the sojourn of this army of bats, a sight well worth seeing presented itself. In the auditorium hall, the ceiling, braces, and cross pieces were completely covered by their little bodies, forming one continuous mass of animated, fuzzy, squirming things. At flying time, towards evening on releasing themselves from their hanging places, they resembled tiny umbrellas being suddenly opened. Quite a number of observers have been sadly disappointed in driving out to this building to view the sight, only to find the bats gone. There was another old, abandoned, two-story building miles from this one, in which the same conditions obtained, only that in this structure there were no hiding places to the bats' liking, so not a single bat remained after the sudden departure of the colony.
Before the author interceded in behalf of these noble creatures, the officers of the fair association would drive to this building armed with shot guns and kill the bats by barrelfuls. The noise made by the guns caused a great many to escape the onslaught; and, after their enemies left, the remainder still adhered to their migratory instinct by returning and remaining until the day when the said instinct indicated that the psychological time had arrived for them to move on.
This building was about a mile from the bat roost that had just been completed and improved upon; and it occurred to the experimenter that, if they could be run out of it, some out of that huge number would find the home intended for them, in which even a larder had been provided.
But how was this to be accomplished when their roosting places were 25 or 30 feet high in the small decorative cupolas and under the arched projecting roofs, where so many of the animals were thoroughly ensconced? In attempting this eviction the good offices of the Mayor of San Antonio were enlisted; and through the Fire Chief, who placed a hose company at the disposal of the author, the work of running the bats out of the building with streams of water was begun. They were fought all day; thousands left the building, ascending very high in their accustomed manner; thousands were chased from one portion of the building, only to find lodgment in another, and be again chased out and tormented all day long. An observation of the bat roost the next evening revealed the fact that not a single bat had entered it, but a visit to the building the evening following, at the usual time for emergence, showed that the work of the tormentors had been in vain, as the bats had all returned to their places.
For months, the author with some of his friends closely observed this bat roost, particularly towards evening at what would be time for emergence, with eyes strained and riveted on the south outline of the roost, eagerly seeking the much desired sight of a fluttering little guest, who had found his man-made home. This desire was never granted. The roost, towering above the surrounding mesquite trees, 30 feet high, stood, for six years, a "monument" to the author's ignorance of the habits of bats. It was sold as old lumber for $45.00, very much to the regret of hundreds of English sparrows who considered its demolition a most cruel trespass; for had they not been in peaceful and uninterrupted possession for such a long time, raising thousands of their babies in a home no one wanted? The junk-lumber dealer, however, was inconsiderate; and the "monument" passed out of existence.A SIMULTANEOUS INDEPENDENT EFFORT
About this time a singular coincidence was happening many miles away. Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton, the eminent American naturalist, had become much impressed with the importance of bats, and had erected a structure intended as a home for them on an island in a lake situated in his park at Greenwich, Conn. He called it his "Tree House." Of course the author knew Mr. Seton by fame, but Mr. Seton knew nothing of either the author or the work he was doing, neither did the author know that that famous gentleman was so much interested in bats as to be attempting to do the same work that was being done in Texas. Some years after Mr. Seton finished his "Tree House" he heard of the Texas work and wrote the author a letter, which, with his permission, is here reproduced:
"I hope you have time to tell me where I can get accurate information about your battery, or bat house, which I understand is a great success. About six years ago I attempted the same thing here in Connecticut. I built a huge hollow tree, and to exclude as far as possible anything but birds and bats, I put it on an island of the lake in my park. The tree was thirty feet high, and seven feet through at the base, with many openings of different sizes, and covered with a concealed waterproof roof. Inside were many nesting boxes and other devices to invite bats, but as far as I know, never a bat went near it. It is now inhabited by flying squirrels, tree mice, woodpeckers, and wasps." Mr. Seton also has a "monument."
Main Exhibition Building. Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton's "Tree House."
It can readily be surmised that the author did not feel any great pride in his expensive and involuntarily-made cenotaph, for although it was empty and represented as dead all the purposes for which it was intended, it by no means contained the remains of his enthusiasm, or vehement desire to continue the work. In fact the "monument" only added to his vehemence. There was one failure, however, that did bring great joy and satisfaction, and that was the author's inability to enlist some one of wealth to build the roost for him; he had built it with his own funds, consequently had no apologies to make to any one for its failure, nor did he have to ask any one's consent to its final disposition.
For months the author racked his brain, spending many dismal days in most abject melancholy; many sleepless nights, planning, pondering, thinking, even dreaming over this most vital of all problems, colonization. With whom could he confer? Friends and fellow practitioners were as helpless as himself! Books were of no avail. What could he do? Surely there was some little path leading out of this dark labyrinth of ignorance! Was the solution to the problem that meant so much to humanity, to countless millions yet unborn, to go unsolved, and work, aspirations, and ambitions to be consigned to perpetual darkness in the fathomless sea of ignorance?HOW SUCCESSFUL COLONIZATION WAS ACHIEVED
There was during all this mental turmoil a little clue to which no importance whatever had been attached, but which would involuntarily bob up in the author's mind, only to be downed; it seemed to dwell in the subconscious mind, and only awaited its turn to assert itself.
The humble farm hand mentioned, who, for a small consideration, attended to lighting, extinguishing, and filling the lamp with the reflector that illuminated the front of the roost, told the author that one morning quite early, on going to extinguish the lamp, he had seen very many bats enter the roost. There was no credence whatever put in this statement, as it was believed to have been made simply from the man's desire to please the author. Besides, how could a swarm of bats ever have entered such an inviting habitation, built expressly for them, and then not want to adopt it?
This was the clue that solved the problem. It was true that the bats had entered the roost; but, finding there conditions and environments not to their liking, when they left on their evening pilgrimage they never returned. There was no room for reasoning, other than that the internal construction was not to their taste. Becoming thoroughly convinced of this, and of course intending to continue the work, the author naturally asked himself the question—"How are we going to ascertain the likes and dislikes of such anomalous creatures?"
There was but one way of procuring that valuable information, and that was to seek and apply to the great and only infallible Bureau of Knowledge, presided over by that infallible Old Lady we choose to call Nature. As it is she who constructs and places her creatures where she chooses, if we should want to know by what rules she governs them, we must go where she has placed them, and look for her inimitable works. But the Old Lady is deaf and mute, and we shall get but little aid from her; her works and secrets are there; all we have to do is to look, and, if we are fortunate enough to be able to see, we shall find that her gorgeous handiwork permeates all the surroundings in which she intended the creature she placed there to "live, move, and have its being."
Accordingly, for a time the author suspended his professional career, closed his office, and left family and friends for the mountainous wilds of his beloved state, with a firm resolution not to return without a complete knowledge and solution of the great problem that had been the cause of so much anxiety and anguish, not to mention sleepless nights and loss of time and money. He felt sure the solution was there; it was only a question of finding it.
Without burdening the reader with the details of this expedition in quest of knowledge in which were encountered so many vicissitudes as to preclude the members of the party from being referred to as having had a "good time," it may be stated that the most salient features were these: In a region miles from water can be seen, about three miles apart, two caves, looking as much alike as two peas. One of these caves is teeming with bats, and in the other, never a bat has entered. In another cave resembling very much the two mentioned is found a deposit of guano very old, but not a single bat in it. The old guano furnishes the mute but conclusive evidence that bats had made it their home—at least for a short time. Perhaps their own cave miles away had caught fire, and they had occupied this one only temporarily. Small traces of very old guano were found in other caves, without a single bat being in them. One cave was discovered that had only recently been on fire, as it was still smouldering. Of course it contained no bats. Very many caves which, without minute investigation, resembled closely the caves they chose for habitation, although they had been in existence for countless centuries, had never been entered by bats.
It was the comparative study of the inhabited and the uninhabited caves that caused the author to become convinced that he had discovered the likes and the dislikes of these anomalous creatures regarding the architecture of their homes; so bringing the expedition to a close, he returned to San Antonio in a jubilant state of mind, eager to continue the work, and, during his journey, allowing his imagination to build all manner of bat roosts.
On this journey, what appeared as a very singular observation was made by the entire party where caves near water holes were visited, and that was that very near the mouths of the caves, mosquitoes were quite plentiful, while a hundred yards away not a mosquito was to be seen or heard. This also holds good in the vicinity of a bat roost. To the average layman unacquainted with the habits of bats, this would tend to discredit the value of that creature as a mosquito destroyer, but a little reflection will show that mosquitoes would be safer near the mouth of a cave or a few feet from a bat roost (and doubtless they know it) than a few hundred yards away. This is a matter of common knowledge among cave owners. When bats emerge from a cave or roost towards evening, they are intent on getting away from their homes as quickly as possible, in order to escape their arch enemy, the hawk; and they do not begin feeding until they are several hundred yards away. When they return home in the morning, they drop down at great velocity from a high altitude and dart into the cave as already described.
The author's eagerness and enthusiasm, however, were held in leash by a much-depleted pocket-book, which only time and close attention to business could recuperate, and this occupied several months. In the meantime, the next important move was being considered, and that was the selection of a site for the new roost. It was a matter of but little difficulty, as the conditions and environments of the selected site actually invited it. The little experience the author had gained in building a bat roost on premises by mere consent and tolerance, prompted him to use more business-like methods, and an acre was leased for a term of 25 years from the owners of the selected site, and a bat roost was built according to the new plans, scented with a quantity of an especially prepared guano which carries the sexual odor, the louvre locked, and the building dedicated to Father Time.
This structure, which the author calls his Mitchell's Lake Bat Roost, was built on the north-west shore of a large body of water, covering 900 acres of land, known as Mitchell's Lake, situated about 10 miles from San Antonio in a southerly direction. The prevailing wind, nine months in the year, is from south-east to north-west, and accordingly there would be more mosquitoes on the north-west shore, being blown there by the wind. Another reason was the proximity of an ideal mosquito-breeding place, a photograph of which is shown. This pool is formed by seepage water from the lake, covers about 6 or 8 acres, and is traversed by a paved county road. To the right of the picture is seen the earthen dam, covered by willow trees. In this pool mosquitoes bred in countless millions. Travelers crossing it on the country road were compelled to whip up their teams to escape the onslaughts of the mosquitoes, as they would run into veritable clouds of these insects. The earthen dam was built in order to raise the level of the lake. This site was selected because conditions and environments could not have been more ideal for the propagation of mosquitoes and malaria, consequently no more exacting demands could possibly be made on a bat roost in the demonstration of the value of bats as destroyers of mosquitoes and malaria.
Into this lake, covering, as already stated, 900 acres from a few inches to twenty-five feet in depth, flows by gravity all the sewage of the City of San Antonio. (Population of San Antonio, 1920 census 161,379.) It never overflows, as the water is used for irrigation. The large amount of water left in the laterals with its huge complement of organic matter, the receding water in the lake when used freely, and particularly the big permanent pools formed by seepage through the earthern dams, outside of the main body of the lake with its dense aquatic vegetation, formed ideal conditions for the breeding of mosquitoes. No swamp in the low lands could be worse.
As an evidence of the fertility of the seepage sewer water for the growth of mosquitoes, on various occasions the surface of a quart fruit jar filled with this water, was entirely covered with mosquito eggs, as was also another jar filled with cistern water, reasonably pure. In the seepage sewer water, ALL of the eggs hatched and passed the different stages to the adult mosquito, while in the jar with the cistern water, only about half of the eggs developed into adult mosquitoes. This experiment has often been made at different times during the year.
This land is tenanted by Spanish and Mexican farmers, who live in little cabins near the shores of the lake. Before this bat-roost was built, mosquitoes bred in such numbers as actually to drive the men from the work of irrigating their crops at night, and forced them to let their crops go to ruin. At times the mosquitoes nearly covered the bodies of the work animals, which in desperation would break through the barbed wire fence to reach the higher ground. The animals rendered very poor service, indeed, being much emaciated, notwithstanding the abundance of food. The few cows owned by the tenants gave a very poor supply of milk, being likewise emaciated on account of depletion by the swarms of mosquitoes that tormented them all night long. Chickens could be heard pattering all night in their endeavors to defend themselves from the onslaughts of the mosquitoes; their combs were very pale, indicating a depletion of blood, and they correspondingly laid very few eggs, or none at all.
Hardly a family escaped the malarial infection. There had been for several years from two to four deaths annually from malaria on these lands, particularly from the malignant type which existed there, as well as from the other forms. During the spring and summer of 1911, the year the roost was built, the author on his self-allotted Fridays, which, as already mentioned, he had for years devoted to the outdoor study of bats in some manner, armed with a microscope and note book, made a canvass of the tenants living on the north and east sides of the lake, examining all told, 87 men, women, and children for malaria. In a very large percentage of those examined, the microscope was not necessary, as the clinical symptoms were there to furnish their own evidence. Of these 87 people examined, 78 were infected with malaria, making it a little over 89 per cent of infection.
But let us get back to the roost which had been built according to plans furnished by the greatest and only infallible of all architects, Nature, scented, and locked on the 2nd of April, 1911, and relegated to Father Time.
Mitchell's Lake Bat Roost. Portion of Mitchell's Lake in background.
For the next three months the author did not visit this roost, not so much on account of the distance and rough roads, but because of the dire necessity of closely "sticking to his last,'' in order to make ends meet, a necessity which now carried the additional burden of the cost of the new roost. His absence from the roost for such a long time caused him no particular worry or anxiety, for, as might have been expected, the author had implicit faith in the construction of the roost. Faith is defined as: "A firm conviction of the truth of what is declared by another, by way either of testimony or authority, without other evidence." Who was the "another" that made the declaration and furnished the convincing testimony? There was no necessity for further evidence. The incomprehensible magician who makes everything we see, feel, hear, taste, and smell, with only a handful of her indestructible toys, the elements, gave the information, and the abiding faith followed.
A great day rolled around on the calendar; a day of rest and rejoicing for this, our glorious Nation, the Fourth day of July. The afternoon of that day was spent in quietly watching the roost from a little distance, waiting for the time bats usually emerge toward evening. At exactly 7:20 p. m., on that glorious evening a swarm of bats was seen emerging from the roost that took all of five minutes to come out. The ocular demonstration had presented itself; the goal had been reached; a modern Palladium had been created. One of the tenants who lived within 200 yards of the roost told the author he had seen bats coming out of it towards evening, and going in again very early in the morning, for about two weeks previous to the celebration visit.MINOR BAT ROOSTS
The photograph marked '' Terrell Ranch House'' is one of an old, untenanted building situated about seven miles in a southerly direction from San Antonio and about three miles from the Mitchell's Lake Bat Roost. In this old building for years large numbers of bats had congregated, but only during the summer months, after the baby bats were old enough to shift for themselves. They were certain to be there during the first week in August. The author often went there to study them, years even before the first roost was built; they were particularly thick in the ceiling of the second story and behind the chimney, which was somewhat detached from the building. This old ranch house is only a mile from the first roost built, the "monument"; and the author and his friends on several occasions had tried to dislodge them, with a view to their finding the said "monument." It was not in the least difficult to run them out with noise, hand clapping, shouting, etc., and with broom weeds tied in bundles, with which they could be swept off the ceiling without injuring them. Whenever this was done, they would ascend in their characteristic manner, and fly so high and far as to be entirely out of sight, but in an hour or two they would return. This invariably happened when they were chased out in the morning. These experiments were tried at this old ranch house, before the experiment of running bats out of the Exposition Building with the aid of the fire department. As getting them out of this old house and keeping them out by closing all of the openings was almost an impossibility, and as all kinds of tormenting were of no avail, it was given up as a bad job.
Cattle Raising on Mitchell's Lake Lands. Terrell Ranch House.
The photograph marked "Hunting Lodge" represents a comfortable little building erected on the shores of Mitchell's Lake by a party of San Antonio sportsmen. The lake affords splendid duck shooting during the season, and this ''shack,'' as it was named, was neatly furnished with a heating and cooking stove, kitchen utensils, clothes racks, davenports, and bunks for sleeping. In short, it was a very cozy little hunting lodge. This building is about 500 yards in a bee line from the Mitchell's Lake Bat Roost. During the summer, or out of the duck season, the "shack" remained untenanted and locked. Bats during mid-summer simply took possession of it and rendered it almost unfit for human habitation. There are other hunting lodges on the shores of the lake, but these the bats did not seem to take to. The little white squares seen under the roof are pieces of shingles which the sportsmen had tacked onto openings, with a view of keeping out the bats; but these proved quite ineffectual. The building being left entirely to itself, the bats had their own way. They roosted on the underside of the roof, and in such numbers as completely to cover not only that space, but the side walls as well. When our friends, the sportsmen, again visited their "shack" at the opening of the duck season, they found every inch of exposed surface on the floor covered with an inch of guano.
The author most ardently wished he could have spoken the bat language in order to tell the bats that a home had been provided for their especial benefit, in which all the conveniences any little bat heart could possibly desire were to be found, and that it was not very far away. This was entirely out of the question, but he knew that the odor in the roost would attract them to it if they could but be made to leave the temporary and unwelcome place they were in.
But how were we to get them out, and make them understand that they were not to come back? Did we not employ all manner of means to accomplish this, and most dismally fail? Other means, some means, had to be devised, but what could they be?THE DELICATE SENSES OF BATS
There are other likes and dislikes about a bat besides the architecture of its home, and these are exhibited through the most wonderful development of its auditory nerve. The author has never examined or dissected the auditory nerve of a bat, but no more convincing argument could be offered in substantiation of this assertion than that it gains its food through its sense of hearing, thereby performing the most important of all biological functions, nutrition, by that highly specialized auditory development. It means that its existence and continued existence depend on its auditory nerve.
Its hearing is adapted to detect the soft, sonorous tones made by the vibrations of the wings of mosquitoes and other small insects; and such tones it would be familiar with and find to its liking, because they are all of the same character; but there might be sound waves of the same number of vibrations as the ones it is accustomed to, but of a different character, which it might not like. Perhaps a combination of such sound waves would "be even repulsive to its delicate hearing, something on the order of the repellant effect of a grating, grinding noise, or that which the sound produced by drawing a fork at right angles over a dinner plate would have on us. If certain tones were not to its liking, they would be more repulsive to it than disagreeable noises are to us, as its auditory nerve is so infinitely-higher developed.
Following this theory, it was but natural that the ''gentle art that soothes the savage breast'' should present itself with its array of different instruments, each producing sound waves characteristic of itself; and the employment of the Lyric Muse was to be the next general plan of attack in the tormenting of these noble little creatures.
Of course, a brass band suggested itself, with its numerous instruments; cornets, clarionets, piccolos, saxophones, cracking trombones, producing musical sounds, and the drums and cymbals, the nerve-racking noises intermingled. Surely in this array of musical instruments there was some sound the character of which the bat did not like, and it was only the dislikes we were looking for. That the bat does not object to the soft tones of a pipe organ is evidenced by the fact that they will find lodgment in church steeples, and come into the church during services at night and fly about for quite some time, while the organ is being played. At all events, brass-band music was agreed upon.
Explaining this theory of sound to an enthusiastic friend who had so often joined the author in expeditions for studying bats, he most cheerfully volunteered to put the theory into practice. He was offered by the author the services of Little Joe, a diminutive Mexican boy in the author's employ, who had the agility of a cat. At home Little Joe's duties were to run errands, sweep the yard, etc., but on "batting" expeditions he sometimes became indispensable. "With the nimble-ness of a monkey, he could climb anything, anywhere, any place. If a difficult and inaccessible spot was to be investigated, Little Joe would find a way, no matter how high the bats were roosting, catch them with one hand while holding on with the other, place them in his shirt bosom, and descend with his shirt bulging with bats. This individual was the valuable assistant to the good friend.
Procuring a small wagon and a horse, a camping expedition was fitted out, to last about a week. The most important accoutrement to this expedition was a phonograph, with a loud-sounding disk, which was selected from hundreds that were heard, on account of the large number of reed instruments and some blatant high notes of cornets. The pianissimos and fortissimos also highly recommended the record. The selection was "Cascade of Roses" waltz, Victor record No. 35047-A, Police Band, City of Mexico.
The old "Ranch House" was the first selected for the "serenade;" and it was in the second story of the building that the phonograph was placed. The music was started going about four o'clock in the morning, with Little Joe as chief musician, his duty being to wind the machine, change needles, etc., and to keep the music going.
It was, indeed, a curious sight to see the bats returning from their nocturnal hunt for food about five o'clock in the morning, and dropping out of the skies, as they are wont to do, but instead of finding immediate lodgment, they would fly around and around the house for perhaps a dozen times and then disappear. The music was kept up until the sun was quite high. The friend and Little Joe who had nothing else to do but to watch for the return of the bats, made the old Ranch House their camping place, and awaited developments, while the author returned to his "last," feeling that a small point had been scored. During the day both the lower and upper floors were swept perfectly clean of the least speck of guano, in order to facilitate subsequent observation. The bats did not return. The next morning about 4 o'clock the ''concert" was again resumed, but not a single bat put in its appearance.
The friend was jubilant; he phoned in to the author the results of the morning's work, requesting suggestions for the next move. It is needless to remark that the friend's telephone conversation completely overbalanced the duty to the ''last,'' which was thrown to the four winds; and it was not very long before friend, Little Joe, and the author were enjoying a most appetizing camp dinner together. That afternoon the Camp was moved from the Old Ranch House to the Hunting Lodge or ''shack,'' and at 5 o'clock the phonograph was placed on the little gallery at the front entrance. No attempt in any manner was made to frighten or disturb the bats, in the least; in fact, as little noise as possible was made with that end in view.
The door to the "shack" was opened, the horn of the machine directed toward the inside, and the bats' little ears were pelted with the "Cascade of Roses." With the sound of the very first measures, a great uneasiness and shifting of the bats was observed, but with the first fortissimo, they began leaving; first in singles, then pairs, then tens and hundreds in one continual stream, until they had all left. Their time of emergence in that month, August, was always about 6:30 o'clock; now they had left one and a half hours before their accustomed time. The "concert" with Little Joe presiding was resumed the next morning about 4 o'clock, but not a single bat returned.
An inspection of the Old Ranch House that day, which it will be remembered was swept perfectly clean, showed it to be in the same condition, not a single bat having returned to it. But an observation of the bat roost, proved conclusively that they had found their newly-made home, as it took nearly two hours for them all to come out, while the colony that first found the roost took only five minutes to emerge. This demonstrated the fact that they had found the roost by the sense of smell, and conditions and environments being to their liking, they remained. The "Hunting Lodge" and the "Ranch House" have both been demolished, but for the six years that they were in existence after the ''concert'' experiment, not a single bat entered either of them. This the author knows, for he examined them carefully for excreta deposits, of which there were none.
A few years ago a clergyman of San Antonio established, some six or seven miles below the city, a new school at one of the old Missions, for which that locality is so noted. In order to avoid the loss of time in making trips backward and forward to the city and school, and desiring to give the latter all of his time, he furnished for himself very comfortable quarters in an old building. Quite a colony of bats found a temporary home and lodgment between the cloth ceiling and the roof of his room. Their high squeaking voices annoyed him very much, and of course the odor of the deposited guano was exceedingly undesirable. Having heard of the ''concert'' experiment, for the dual purpose of amusement and battle, he purchased a phonograph and a few records. He won the battle in one day, as the bats left him to enjoy the records all to himself.
There have been made in this country and in Europe some very brilliant experiments with bats, on the remarkable faculty they possess of avoiding collisions, even in the dark. Wires were stretched across the room, and the bats, although blinded, dodged them with unerring certainty when flying backwards and forwards. It is truly remarkable how they avoid the delicate and dense limbs of brush and overhanging trees in a narrow creek, with the wind swaying the limbs. One would imagine that they would be certain to strike against some of the obstacles, or that the swaying boughs would hit them. Perhaps sound and their delicate hearing play an important role in this marvelous faculty. This peculiarity of bats has not been looked into by the author, and he leaves the solution of this one also to the conjectures of the reader.
During the next year, 1912, there was nothing new done in the work, as, when a bat roost is built, it must be left severely alone. The roost was erected in the center of the acre, which was pretty well covered with mesquite brush and prickly pear, and for two reasons it was desirable that the acre be cleared, one being for ornamentation, the other for the eradication of and protection against rattlesnakes. But this was deferred, fearing the noise made by chopping, etc., might disturb the guests in the Hotel de Bat. Prickly pears were planted in a trench dug beneath the barbed wire which enclosed the acre, with a view of having a fence of such a nature as would keep out trespassers. It is now so dense as most effectually to fulfill the intention, and in blossom time it is really a thing of beauty, with its red and yellow prickly-pear blossoms.
The next year, 1913, Father Time, with the assistance of Old Lady Nature, seemed to be working overtime, as the colony was growing wonderfully. It was during this year that the acre was cleared of all brush and prickly pear, but it was done during the winter when the bats were hibernating.
When these little bird mammals find a place suited to. their habits, they never leave it except at night to feed, returning very early in the morning. It sometimes happens that some come home quite late, but these are comparatively few; evidently they went a long way for food, and had a long way to travel back.
Some years ago, while the period of gestation in bats was being studied by the author, occasion presented itself to catch a great many from an old building in which these creatures had found a home for many years. This was another instance where Little Joe became indispensable. Of course, as many bats as possible were caught and brought in a screened box to the author's work room in the office, and there one by one were taken out, and the sex determined. As the males served no purpose in that study, every male bat was marked by cutting a tiny "V" on the right ear, and liberated. The work room is fully three miles from the old building from which the bats were caught. In a week's time, when a large number were again caught from the same old building, in order to continue the study, some of the same ones that had been previously caught would be found, as evidenced by the mark on the right ear. These were again marked, but on the left ear, and again some caught a few weeks later. There were none marked other than twice, as it was thought that any more mutilation of their ears might interfere with their hearing, and so cause them to starve.FOREIGN APPRECIATION
It was during this year that, thanks to the efficiency of the post office department, the author received a letter from Rome, Italy, addressed thus: "Bat Experiment Station, Texas, near Mexican frontier." As the author was the only bat experimenter in Texas, he felt that it was intended for him, so opened it. It was from the Honorable Lorenzoni, Secretary of Agriculture of His Majesty's Government, dated Rome, Italy, and stated that he had heard of the bat experiments, and requested all data on the work. There are no civilized people in the world who suffer more from malaria than do the valiant populace of that kingdom. The Government is actually in the business of manufacturing that noblest of therapeutic agents, quinine. The request was promptly complied with, and all data that had accumulated up to that time were sent to Signor Lorenzoni, with a letter under separate cover, telling him that the work was progressing most satisfactorily, and that in a few years it would demonstrate itself.
The Honorable Secretary evidently thought enough of the work to cause it to be published in the "Monthly Bulletin of the International Institute of Agriculture," of Rome,—August issue, Number 8, 1913,—in both the Italian and the English languages. As the "Monthly Bulletin" is issued by the Italian Government, it goes to the four corners of the globe; and one can imagine what publicity it received. It was this publication that caused two Austrian noblemen, representatives of their Government, to come to San Antonio for the express purpose of investigating the bat proposition. These gentlemen were so impressed with what they saw that they asked the author to make them a proposal involving his personal services in their country for one year, so that they could submit it to their Government. This was toward the end of 1913. The great war broke out the following year, which of course stopped all work of an altruistic nature.RESULTS OF BAT COLONIZATION
The next year, 1914, the Roost, having attained the third year of its existence, with Father Time and the Old Lady still on the job, was beginning to give a good account of itself. The news first came from duck hunters, who reported that the mosquitoes had so diminished in numbers that they could remain in the "blinds" until dark, while formerly they had been compelled to stop shooting long before that, on account of the swarms of the insects that would swoop down on them. During the summer of that year, the author, on one of his Friday trips of observation, was approached by one of the tenants, and asked in Spanish when he was going to build another bat roost, to which he replied "What do you think of the one already built?" The man unhesitatingly answered: "Esa casa es una maravilla." Translated, ''That house is a marvel." "If you think so well of the bat roost," continued the author, "see your neighbors and request them to make statements of their experiences of conditions on these lands, before the bat roost was built and up to the present time, reduce these to writing; and when I come again on one of my Friday trips, I will bring with me a notary public, and get them to swear to the statements so made." This was done, and the following affidavits are in the language and words of the tenants themselves. Surely these people, living on these lands year in and year out, ought to be, and are, the real judges of the value of the proposition of the cultivation of bats.
All of the following affidavits were duly sworn to by the parties named, before Albert W. Bitter, a notary public; and the translation from the Spanish is by Colonel F. A. Chapa, a Spanish scholar, who swore to them as being correctly translated, before John F. Onion, also a notary public:
This revolutionary change of conditions on these lands brought about by the bats, was nothing more than what was to be expected, as their numbers increased in the bat roost, for here was now their permanent home, with an abundance of their natural food close by. In fact, it was the abundance of their natural food, mosquitoes, in that vicinity that caused the bats to find the old Ranch House and the Hunting Lodge or "shack" long before the Roost was built; but their numbers never increased, as they all left during the latter part of October each year, and only returned the first week in August, the following year; while the bats in their Roost, their permanent home, began their mosquito-destroying activities, or better said, finding their food, from the 15th of February, continuing all through the year until about the middle of November, when the mosquito season closes, which also closes theirs.
There are very few artificial, or man-made things that are superior to those made by Nature, and the Bat Roost, happens to be one of them. In the man-made bat-home, the enormous loss to the progeny is entirely obviated. As already explained, the loss in their natural homes, caves, is to the baby bats that go to sleep and fall to the floor of the cave, and to the mother bats that come down after them. In the bat roost the babies can fall only to the floor of the hopper on the inside of the roost, where there are no wild animals lurking and ready to devour them. It matters not where the mother bat may be roosting in the artificial home, the baby will fall in the hopper, from which she can pick it up in perfect safety to both the baby and herself.
It has been suggested that by conserving bats they would become a nuisance in a community by the enormously increasing numbers, something like the pest we have in the English sparrow. This conjectured objection can be very easily answered. In the first place, bats are only too glad to have a home where conditions are to their liking, and where they will remain; unlike the English sparrow, they are all in one place, the roost; and if it ever should become advisable to kill them off, it would be an easy matter to destroy them.HOME APPRECIATION
It was during the year 1914 that the Medical Profession of San Antonio, as represented by the Bexar County Medical Society, again took notice of the bat work, and the following resolutions were adopted, which will speak for themselves. Below, also, is a copy of the City Ordinance passed unanimously by the City Council of the City of San Antonio, (aldermanic form of government), which was due entirely to the influence of the medical profession, some of the members of which appeared before the Council in person to urge its adoption.
It is the first law of its kind in the world.
The next year, 1915, the fourth year of the existence of the Bat Roost, was indeed a memorable one. The services of Father Time, who had rendered such valuable assistance, and who seemingly had worked overtime in his endeavors to finish the work, were now beginning to come to a close. But Old Mother Nature realized that her wonderful little mammals were being better cared for in their new man-made home, for which she had furnished the plans, with the characteristics of a mother, readily gave her consent to the occupancy of the new house, in the interest of their welfare and happiness. How well these privileges were enjoyed is evidenced by the wonderfully increasing numbers, which, as if in gratitude or as a recompense for their home, converted it with their services into a Palladium, that all of the species of the builder might be protected from their enemies, as they themselves were being protected from theirs.
This year also marked a most momentous event in the entire work, as will be seen by the copy of the letter from General Gorgas, Surgeon General, United State Army, Washington, D. C., to Judge Winchester Kelso, San Antonio, Texas. The Judge being a large owner of the Mitchell's Lake lands, was desirous of having his distinguished friend's opinion on the bat proposition as a natural hygienic measure. At the Judge's request, all data on the work were forwarded to his world-famous friend at Washington. The General's reply, which will speak for itself, follows:
What were the author's feelings at reading the last sentence of General Gorgas' letter? To comprehend these, let the reader imagine himself living in a kingdom, ages ago, when "kings, the powerful of the earth," reigned supreme, and he an humble subject endeavoring for years at great sacrifice of time, toil, and hard-earned money to complete a work which he felt was destined to make his fellow subjects more happy and contented, but encountering envy, malice, and ridicule at every hand, to be suddenly rewarded by the all-powerful king in a letter in which he proclaims that he would gladly recommend the work in all cases where it is sought to be applied! Surely the king would be above all envy, jealousy, or malice, as it was only the good of his subjects that he would have at heart, and as their welfare and happiness were his. Now, let him bring that imagination down to his own time, and he will see that in reality, a modern king, greater, yes, far greater than any king, as his greatness consists in not being the son of his father, but in being a favored son of the Master who created him, and chose him to be a king of that divine faculty, INTELLECT, of which He is the sole dispenser. Yes, again contemplate, gentle reader, and your bosom must swell with pride at the proud satisfaction that this '' Intellectual King,'' whose God-given gift of Reason benefits not a little kingdom, but the entire world, was a red-blooded American, and a fellow-countryman of ours, the lamented General W. C. Gorgas.
THE FIRST MUNICIPAL BAT ROOST
It was also during this year that the City of San Antonio, through its City Council, appropriated the necessary funds and built the Municipal Bat Roost, the first municipal construction of its kind in the world, on advice of its Board of Health, and because of General Gorgas' recommendation of the work. Of course, all of the members of San Antonio Board of Health are reputable gentlemen of the Medical profession, and being members of the Bexar County Medical Society, were thoroughly conversant with the work, but when shown the appraisal by the "World's Greatest Sanitarian," it became to them a pleasure to recommend the erection of a bat roost; and San Antonio became the pioneer in a natural hygienic and economic measure, destined eventually to prove world-wide in application. What this building has accomplished will be seen later on.
During this year the author resumed his weekly Friday visits to the Mitchell's Lake lands, and made a canvass of the north and east side of the lake, just as he had done in 1911, and not a single case of malaria was found, where formerly 89 per cent of the tenants had the disease in some form or another, and where from two to four deaths occurred yearly. There was one case brought there from Tampico, Mexico, which will be referred to presently.
The scientific demonstration of the elimination of malaria on these lands and vicinity is nothing more than what was to be expected, after getting a good-sized colony of bats to inhabit the bat roost and make it their permanent home. As we have learned, the cycle of sporogony, which is the one that takes place in the body of the mosquito, requires from ten to fifteen days for its completion, and not until it is complete can the insect convey the parasite.
There had been ample evidence offered to demonstrate that the mosquito is the natural and principal food of the bat, and even further and very conclusive evidence that it has a selective instinct for finding the engorged mosquito. This is shown by the fact that every pound of bat guano represents more than one and fifty-eight hundredths pounds of liquid blood; it is quite natural that the newly hatched mosquitoes (which of course are not infected) that bit the carriers, were caught by the bats before the cycle of sporogony had completed itself. The bats, being very active in quest of food all night long, had from ten to fifteen nights in which to catch the would-have-been-infected mosquitoes.
The case of malaria referred to as being brought to these lands during the summer of this year afforded an excellent opportunity for witnessing a practical verification of these scientific facts, with bats in most intimate connection. A two-room cabin near the edge of Mitchell's Lake and about a half-mile from the bat roost, was occupied by a man, his wife, and his brother. The husband had just returned from Tampico, Mexico, with his bride. She had malaria in Tampico, before they were married, and continued to have it in their new home. There was no necessity of a microscopic verification of her case, because the clinical symptoms were too plain; she was having the characteristic chills. This was during the first week in June.
As decoctions of all kinds—herbs, roots, bark, etc., are favorite remedies among the poorer classes of Mexicans, the recipes doubtlessly having been handed down to them by the Indians, the author offered no objection to those therapeutic agents which were being used, when he dropped into the little cabin and saw the shivering woman. How could he? To offer modern remedies would have meant the defeat of an opportunity for scientific observation on the value of bats, as hygienic agents of the rarest kind, for which he would have given not only his last dollar, but some of his friends' dollars, to create.
The woman continued with her chills exhibiting themselves with their characteristic periodicity. It must be remembered from what we have learned, that Nature is always on duty in the interest of ALL of her creatures, and every time this woman had a chill, the gametes were evolved and found in the blood stream, thereby making her a competent ''carrier,'' which means competent to infect mosquitoes.
One day, during the month of August, the husband, knowing the author's weekly visit was due, and that he would call on him, to show the activities of the bats in his cabin, exhibited two heaping tablespoonfuls of bat guano which he had collected in sweeping out his cabin that morning, dropped there by the bats during the night. The husband by this time was beginning to lose faith in the efficacy of his herb remedies, so the author volunteered his services, agreeing to furnish both services and medicine, gratis. This, however, was not prompted by the dictates of altruism, but from fear lest some brother doctor be called in, who would, of course, spoil the beautiful experiment by the administration of anti-periodics, which experiment for three months had been working so admirably to the credit of the bats.
It goes without saying, that the prescribed medication did not in the least interfere with the cycle of schizogony. By the middle of November, when both the mosquito season and the bat season closed, and the experiment concluded itself, this case received the most zealous care and attention in the way of proper medication, diet, etc., sparing nothing conducive to the woman's welfare, until she made a complete recovery. What did we learn from this? Notwithstanding that this woman, who was a typical malarial "carrier" from June to the middle of November, five and a half months, had lived in a little cabin with her husband and his brother, she never conveyed the disease to either of those two people, or to the people living in the near-by cabins, because the bats got the mosquitoes that bit her, before the cycle of evolution had completed itself in their bodies.
Since the publication of this bat-work (as far as it had then been completed) by the Italian Government, almost every newspaper in the civilized world made some mention of it. The London Illustrated News had a picture of the Mitchell's Lake Bat Boost, with a short description of this natural hygienic and economic measure. Two years later the Scientific American had quite an article in its issue of November 13, 1915, written by the author, at the request of the editor. All of this publicity brought the author hundreds of letters from all parts of the world, and one of the principal questions asked was,'' if places in the vicinity of San Antonio, or in fact, West Texas, are not better favored for the cultivation of bats than others?''
Of course, there are more bats in the neighborhood of hills and mountains, because caves are their natural homes, and these are found in such regions; but they are known to migrate hundreds of miles in search of food, and to return to their homes towards the end of the feeding season. This can be easily verified by witnessing the increasing number of bats in a cave as the close of the season approaches, and further verified by the increasing deposits of guano.
All bats that are gregarious, that is, having the habit of associating in flocks, herds, or colonies, will live in a bat roost, when they once find it. It is precisely the mission of a bat roost to bring many squads of the humble little flying sanitary workers to the low lands and swamps, where mosquitoes and malaria reign supreme. The sole compensation for their most efficient work is a home, in return for which they render the low lands and swamps as notoriously healthy as are the regions of hills and mountains. What has been accomplished at Mitchell's Lake can with equal facility be accomplished in any part of the world.
Municipal Bat Roost, erected by the City Council of the City of San Antonio, Texas, March 17th, 1916.
The next year, 1916, the bats seemed to have doubled their population, and closer-up observations were thought advisable, in that the guests of the Palladium now considered it their home, and were not to be frightened away. Seats in the acre were provided for visitors, as well as a nice table and bench to facilitate a luncheon toward evening, while awaiting the emergence of the bats.STATE APPRECIATION
The Texas State Board of Health, which meets quarterly at a place and time designated by its president, the State Health Officer, held one of its meetings in San Antonio, for the express purpose of investigating the bat proposition. With the aid of lantern slides, the author presented and thoroughly explained the entire work to the gentlemen of the Board. At that meeting the author was honored by the presence of the lamented Major-General Frederick S. Funston, who became so interested in the work that he told one of his friends of the medical profession who accompanied him that he would like to see a large bat roost erected at Fort Sam Houston; that if the request for the erection of one were to be made by the medical department, he, as Commander of the Southern Department, would gladly endorse it. Because of his untimely and lamented end, his wish was never carried out.
The Texas State Board of Health is composed of reputable members of the medical profession of Texas, and what they thought of the proposition is expressed in the most flattering resolutions that follow:
The author feels very kindly indeed to the gentleman who, of his own volition, wrote him the letter that follows, for he recognizes that it was written in a spirit of encouragement which is very acceptable; and not even having the pleasure of an acquaintance, desires by these lines very kindly to thank him. As will be seen, Mr. Gibson is a San Antonian:
1133 W. Agarita Ave.,
San Antonio, Texas.
June 27, 1916.
Here follows another letter of similar purport from a man who studied and understood somewhat the habits of bats seven years before the author began his investigations.
The bats, having by their wonderfully increasing numbers eradicated the malaria and demonstrated the hygienic element, it was now time to give the economic element some attention, so, on December 29th, 1916, the hopper was emptied of what guano it contained, and the roost again locked.BAT LEGISLATION
The next year, 1917, made still more history for the bat work, in that the San Antonio members of the Texas Legislature became much interested, and, on January 23rd of that year, the Hon. Edward J. Lange, Representative in the Texas House, introduced a bill making it a misdemeanor to kill or injure a bat. It passed the House unanimously; and the Hon. Carlos Bee, Senator from the San Antonio District, became sponsor for it in the Senate. In some unaccountable manner, perhaps due to the pressure of other bills previously introduced, the bill was somewhat delayed in passing the Senate. It was then that some of the big medical men of San Antonio, who are thoroughly conversant with the work and with the value of bats as hygienic agents, took a hand, and the following telegrams were sent to the Senator:
Slough in Mitchell's Lake; from 2 to 8 inches of standing sewer-water.
- Gold pen with which the Governor of Texas signed the bat bill protecting bats.
The following is the bill as passed and now a law, Texas being as yet the only state in the Union giving to these lowly little sanitary workers the protection they so richly deserve:
Col. F. A. Chapa, the Spanish scholar, and one of San Antonio's sterling citizens, mentioned as having translated the affidavits made by the tenants of Mitchell's Lake lands, is an enthusiastic admirer of the bat work. The Colonel was a member of the City Council, when the matter of building the Municipal Bat Roost came before that body; and when the bat bill passed the Senate, he, out of his high admiration for the work, purchased a gold pen and holder, journeyed to Austin, Texas, and had the Governor of Texas sign the bill with it. On his return home, with a few beautiful words he presented it to the author.
Again, the author wished he could have spoken the bat language, that he might have told the bats of their good fortune. The great law-making body of the greatest state in the Union has given them the recognition they so justly deserve, and they are not to be put to death simply because they are bats, and so badly misunderstood. No, the majesty of the law in Texas, says:'' Thou shalt not kill a bat within my domain.''
In one of Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton's splendid books, "Wild Animal Ways," Doubleday, Page & Co., on page 178, he pays the bat a regal tribute; and it affords the author great pleasure to quote it: "We now know that typhoid, malaria, yellow fever, and many sorts of dreadful maladies are borne about by mosquitoes and flies. Without such virus-carriers these deadly pests would die out. And of all the creatures in the woods there is none that does more noble work for man than the skimming, fur-clad bat. Perhaps he kills a thousand insects in a night. All of these are possible plague-bearers. Some of them are surely infected and carry in their tiny, baneful bodies, the power to desolate a human home. Yes, every time a bat scoops up a flying bug, it deals a telling blow at mankind's foes. There is no creature, winged or walking, in the woods that should be better prized, protected, blessed, than this, the harmless, beautiful, beneficent bat."
Guano crop from Mitchell's Lake bat roost for the year 1917, 2996 pounds.
On January 2nd, 1918, the Mitchell's Lake bat-roost, which it will be remembered was emptied and locked on Dec. 29th, 1916, was again emptied, and the photograph shows the sacked guano, representing the crop of 1917, amounting to 2,996 pounds. This photograph of the 1917 crop, with the sacked guano stacked in front of the Roost, was sent to Gen. W. C. Gorgas, at Washington, D. C., in the early part of 1918, and also a letter reminding him of the assertion in the manuscript, sent him two years previously, that the proposition of the cultivation of bats had two great values, viz., hygienic and economic, and that these were inseparable. As to the hygienic element he had already said he "would gladly recommend it in all cases of malarial work;'' and now he was being shown the inseparable economic element, which had demonstrated itself. The photographic copy of the General's reply speaks for itself.
This was indeed a most flattering compliment coming from the "World's Greatest Sanitarian" on a sanitary measure. The author and his friends, both lay and professional, were jubilant.
One enthusiastic friend asked for the loan of the letter, as he wished to show it to a friend of his who made quite some claims to erudition, but who was not so enthusiastic about the bat work. Throwing the letter down on his friend's desk, he said: "Read this. When a big St. Bernard like this barks, all you doubting Thomases, knockers, and canines of the Chihuahua variety ought to go way back and hide yourselves." The friend admitted he was no match for such high authority, and so fell into line.
Our great country has always been the first most liberally to respond and contribute money, clothing, food, etc., following all the world's great catastrophes; doubtless, you yourself, gentle reader, have contributed your mite, prompted by your goodness of heart, at reading of the appalling suffering. Here in our own country, going on all of the time, day in and day out, we have untold suffering and appalling economic loss, and you are asked only to lend your good words in the interest of your red-blooded American brothers who may not have the knowledge of Nature's work that you have; and you know the percentage of this class is high. It behooves us, who are a little more fortunate in the acquisition of knowledge, to constitute ourselves "our brothers' keepers" by pointing out to them the intricate schemes of Nature that are harmful to them and theirs; and, in so doing, we become worthy keepers.
No one would ever say a single word, or even make a suggestion, against this work, or ANY work, that might have the least sign of any merit directed toward the eradication of this world-wide disease, if its importance were ever brought home to him. This the author knows from actual experience in his professional life.
If you, gentle reader, have a little fellow, your own flesh and blood, whom you see beginning to lose his inclination to romp and play, his little face growing pallid, and if after weeks or months of suffering, the final tragedy is enacted, then you would see all of your fondest hopes buried in a little mound of earth, a reminder of your irreparable loss. Mental pictures of your loved one would appear to you during the day, and most vividly in home scenes in your dreams at night; would you then say one word or lift a finger against any method that might be offered to crush the monster that produced the indescribable heartaches?
There are thousands of such instances occurring in this great country of ours almost daily, directly, or indirectly caused by this colossal, hydra-headed monster, known by the familiar name of malaria.
If some of our brethren, dear readers, pooh-pooh the idea of the eradication of malaria by the cultivation of bats, it is simply because they do not understand, not that they mean to be vicious, because it is inconceivable that any man, who understands the great havoc malaria plays all over the world, should be so bereft of the milk of human kindness as in any manner to impede this life-saving, health-giving, wealth-producing beneficence.
PRIVATE AND PUBLIC BAT ROOSTS
Hygieostatic Bat Roost, the Property of the Hon. Albert Steves, ex-Mayor of the City of San Antonio, Texas.
The photograph marked "Hygiostatic Bat Roost" portrays a structure erected during 1918, being the private property of the Honorable Albert Steves, Sr., Ex-Mayor of Sac Antonio. The man and his motive for its erection give the word humane a practical definition. It was during this gentleman's tenure of office that the public's money was appropriated to build the Municipal Bat Roost. From the incipiency of the bat-work, Mr. Steves had been watching every move; and long ago he foresaw its value to humanity. He erected a bat roost at his country home, some fifty miles north of San Antonio, and only one mile from where he first saw the light of day. He chose to call his bat roost'' Hygiostatic,'' coining the word from two Greek derivatives, Hygieia, the goddess of health, and stasis, standing, i. e., Standing for Health.
Mr. Steves is one of San Antonio's foremost citizens and a direct descendant of one of the sterling families that blazoned through the wilderness the paths that led to the progress, civilization, and enlightenment which the great state of Texas enjoys in this good day. Originating from the sturdy pioneer stock that "could look the whole world in the face," it was but natural that pioneer work should come to him as an inheritance, and through refinement in rearing, high educational attainments, and nobility of character; it was again but natural that his thoughts should pour out to his less fortunate brothers, and he embraced the opportunity of becoming, like his forebears, a pioneer in furthering a propaganda destined to become of such great value to humanity.
The erection of this structure was not a dire necessity, nor considered indispensable to the comforts and conveniences of the country home, as there are not myriads of mosquitoes in that vicinity. His home has all the modern conveniences that wealth can command. The commercial value, the DOLLARS in the bat proposition would appeal but little or not at all to this gentleman; but what did appeal to him was a little community of some two thousand souls, only one mile from his country home, the playground of his childhood, and this his big heart wanted to reach and benefit, when he so unostentatiously erected a Palladium for the bats.
The photograph marked "Asylum Bat Roost" illustrates a roost that is the property of the State of Texas. It was erected during 1918 on recommendation of the Superintendent, Dr. Beverly T. Young, a prominent member of the medical profession. The large building seen in the background is the Southwestern Insane Asylum. The State of Texas has four such institutions for the care of her insane; and, in the interest of those unfortunate inmates in this one, Dr. Young had the bat roost erected.
During the early part of that year, Dr. M. M. Smith of Dallas, one of the really great doctors of Texas, while in attendance at San Antonio on the State Medical Association, took advantage of his presence there to investigate the bat work. Accordingly, he and the author went over every phase of the measure, and in the afternoon journeyed to the Mitchell's Lake lands, where he saw the ideal conditions and environments for the propagation of mosquitoes, and the roost in practical operation. Dr. Smith is the editor of Medical Insurance and Health Conservation. How well he was impressed with what he saw is best told by the letter that follows:
Erected by the State of Texas at the Southwestern Insane Asylum near San Antonio, Texas.
Dr. Campbell's Malaria-Eradicating Guano-Producing Bat Roost.
Alamo Heights Bat Roost, showing Academy in the background. Showing how close to a school or building a bat roost can be built.
During the month of May of that year Captain McKinney, Adjutant of the American Military Mission in Rome, at the instance of General Marieni, Chief of Engineers of the Italian Army, wrote to the Mayor of San Antonio for detailed information regarding the bat method of combating malaria, and this information was mailed from here by the author, to whom the matter was referred by the Mayor on June 28th. Apparently it had not yet reached Rome when the following cablegram was received July 15, 1918:
The ending of the war suspended the correspondence.
The author felt indeed honored when he received a pamphlet issued by the Belgian Government under the auspices of the Minister of Colonies, in which on page 91 is shown a picture of the Mitchell's Lake bat roost, and a cut of the bat guano, showing the chitinous remains of mosquitoes and other insects. The pamphlet is a very thorough publication intended for distribution to all of the Belgian Colonies, instructing their colonists as to the life and dangers of mosquitoes, and the different methods of their eradication, such as oiling, draining of land, etc. The Minister thought enough of the bat method to include it in his pamphlet. The author is unaware as to how the Minister obtained the photographs, as they were not procured from him. The pamphlet is in the French language and entitled, "Études de Biologie Agricole, Nov. 4, 1918."
Even our great American, the lamented Theodore Eoosevelt, was interested in this work, as shown by a letter from him on the occasion of his receiving a newspaper clipping from the author. He wrote thus:
432 Fourth Avenue, New York,
December 10, 1918.
The photograph of the loaded truck containing a trifle over two tons of bat guano, which represents the crop of 1918, was taken on January 12, 1919, and conclusively shows the popularity the roost had attained. Evidently its fame in bat circles, like the fame of a well conducted human hostelry had spread, so that its much desired space was permanently tenanted, not only by the first papas and mamas that found the Hotel de Bat, but also by brothers and sisters, and first cousins, second cousins, third cousins, and many cousins so far removed as to be only bats but not kin. And then hundreds living in dangerous caves, just "dropped in" or came "a-visiting," and, discovering a home so much better than the home they knew, and in which were dwelling in perfect contentment so many of their own kind, soon found friends, sweethearts, and wives, and so helped increase the colony with their babies, and their babies' babies. Had the owner known his roost was going to meet with such favor on the part of the bats, he would have made it considerably larger than he did.RECOMMENDED BY STATE LEGISLATURE FOR THE NOBEL PRIZE
During the year 1919 the author was most signally honored by the Legislature of Texas, as will be seen by a copy of the House Concurrent Resolution No. 26, adopted by the House of Representatives on February 10th, and approved by his Excellency, the Governor, on February 18th, 1919. This, indeed, was a most flattering honor, as the author and his wife were away from Texas on a pleasure trip in Florida and Cuba during the month of February of that year, and knew nothing about the high compliment until apprised of it by wire through a good friend in San Antonio.
During this year was also constructed the Alamo Heights Bat Roost. It was given that name on account of its being the property of the residents of Alamo Heights, who erected it by popular subscription among themselves.
Alamo Heights is the most beautiful high-class suburb of San Antonio, situated to the north of the city on hills covered with majestic oak trees and the perennial laurel, which in blossom-time fills the air with its sweet perfume. The Heights are two hundred feet higher than the center of the city and command magnificent views to the four points of the compass.
From the bottom of the rock-ribbed hills and amid wonderful natural scenery, the eye is greeted with hundreds of little crystalline springs, which, murmuring and babbling, contribute their precious liquid into larger channels, that eventually form the serpentine water-course known as the San Antonio River. It was this beautiful and natural environment that caused the pioneer Franciscan Fathers, who had blazoned their way through savage haunts and wilderness more than two hundred years ago, to halt their pilgrimage ; and this represented the birth of the Metropolis of Texas, San Antonio, the Queen City of the Empire State of Texas.
But while these good people, who represent the culture, education, and refinement of San Antonio, built this bat roost in the interest of their suburb, they never lost sight of that nobility of character born of refinement, viz., a consideration for the welfare of others, so caused the structure to be erected on the campus of the West Texas Military Academy, which is near by, in the interest of science and educational advancement.
As will be seen, the structure is more elaborate than the others that have been built, but that is only in keeping with the beautiful surroundings. The bronze caduceus, the emblem of science on the door leading to the inside of the roost, and the Lone Star, emblematic of the great State of Texas, where this measure originated, are intended to impress the young student that comes from afar to the Academy.
The writing to the left of the star is a reproduction of the second point in this work, and reads thus: ''That the bat is one of man's best friends, because he so relentlessly destroys the malarial mosquito, as that insect is its natural and principal food." "By protecting bats, you protect your fellow man." To the right of the star is a copy of the state law protecting bats.
The photograph taken on Feb. 15, 1919, on the occasion, of the completion of the structure, with the students on parade, records the inaugural ceremony.
The proposition for the cultivation of bats having now long passed the experimental stage, the two features which represent the entire gist of the work, viz., the hygienic and the commercial values, having demonstrated themselves, it affords the author great pleasure to take his friends and their friends out to Mitchell's Lake to see the bat roost and the bats emerging from it towards evening. It is felt that the bats now know that this elegant home is theirs, for no ordinary noise disturbs them. Of course, all of the bats born in the roost know no other home, hence the noise made by a small party spending the closing afternoon hours in singing, laughter, and general merry-making over a well-filled basket of the best of things for the inner man, awaiting the pleasure of the tens of thousands of these valuable little flying sanitarians to be seen leaving their home for their all-night flight in search of food, does not disturb them very much.
However, it is always best to copy as much as possible the natural solitude of the wilderness, at least for the first few years after the erection of a bat roost. The following incident clearly shows the extreme timidity of bats. A cave owner in "West Texas imagined he could improve the condition of his cave and get more bats in it by closing one small corner of the mouth by a loose rock wall. In some unaccountable manner, when the wind blew from a certain direction, there was a perfect whirlwind in the cave, and as he attributed to this the fact that his cave was not entirely filled with bats, he built a wall in one corner of the mouth, with a view of shutting off this whirlwind.
In conversation with this cave owner, the author disagreed with him as to the cause of the cave not being entirely filled with bats, and cautioned him against making any improvements, lest the bats leave the cave entirely. It yielded the owner an average of 60 tons of guano in what is termed an ordinary year; in other years, when the rainfall is excessive, and there are plenty of mosquitoes, the cave yields as much as 80 tons. In the year following the erection of the wall, which was an ordinary year, instead of getting 60 tons of guano, he only got 20 tons. It is needless to say that the "protecting wall" has been removed.
It is, indeed, most astonishing and highly gratifying to see how quickly one makes of the average layman a friend for the bat, when he is simply told that bats eat mosquitoes. "Within the last few years there were several very old buildings demolished in the march of progress in this quaint old city, and in some of these bats had found lodgment. When the work was to begin, the author would be on hand and point out to the workmen where the bats would be found, and ask them to please not hurt these animals; that they were their friends, as they ate the malarial mosquito. A look of astonished curiosity would come over them, as if being told some joyful news; and to a man they worked with the greatest care when they found the roosting places, in order to keep from injuring them in any manner. The author did not quote to them the city ordinance or the state law protecting bats, preferring to ascertain their feelings in the matter.APPRECIATIVE TESTIMONIALS
The photograph marked, "Hammered Copper Bat" is that of a plaque made by a French artist, Mons. A. J. Gerard, on account of his high admiration for this creature. It was presented by him to the author. It is truly a work of art. The artist took great pains in its preparation, in which he was engaged for more than a year. It is modeled from life, and made entirely with chisels and hammer, no easting or molding whatever being employed. The metal is about three-eighths of an inch in thickness. It constitutes one of the author's most treasured possessions; and, neatly framed, occupies a conspicuous place on the walls of his private office, where it receives the admiration of all who see it.
When it shall have come time for the author "to join that innumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious realm," this work of art will be removed from its neat frame on the wall, and counter-sunk into a modest piece of granite or marble which shall mark "the breathless darkness and narrow house" to which he will be consigned. And the hammered copper image with outspread wings will keep vigil over the "narrow house" in which its friend is obeying the inexorable laws of Nature. But its enduring character will permit it to show to others, to those still in the flesh, long after the friend has "gone to mix forever with the elements," that if more of these little creatures are on earth to benefit them and theirs, it is because the flying sanitary messengers had such a friend.
For some years the author has been receiving a great many letters from all over the world, asking for more information, or offering congratulatory words of praise and encouragement. The one here reproduced from South Africa is a fair sample.
UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
Office of the UNION ENTOMOLOGIST
On His Majesty's Service
Praetoria, 23rd of August, 1920.
It would not be out of the ordinary for one to receive praise and kind words from people away from his own home, as that would harmonize entirely with the old adage of the "Prophet being not without honor, save in his own land"; but in the case of his bat roosts the author can claim, with pardonable pride, that the old order of things has been reversed.
A great many San Antonio people on their summer tours frequently discuss the bat work with fellow travellers on the Pullman cars, or at summer resorts, and the first question asked them is: "What do the doctors of San Antonio think of the proposition and its originator?" On the occasion of an extensive write-up of the bat work, published as a Sunday feature by the San Antonio Express on March 7, 1920, the reporter in gathering data, asked the author that very question, "What do the San Antonio doctors say about this?" The interviews given, by some of the prominent San Antonio physicians are reproduced with their permission, from that Sunday edition:—
Dr. J. S. Langford, prominent physician, has this to say:
Dr. Wm. E. Luter, ex-president of Bexar County Medical Society, grew pleasantly reminiscent:
Dr. E. H. Elmendorff, Assistant County Physician, has had wide experience in malarial cases among the country's poor. He said:
Average Tenant Family at Mitchell's Lake. Note healthy appearance.
This is the answer to the question most frequently asked; and it is given by the San Antonio physicians themselves.
The photograph marked "Mitchell's Lake School Children" was taken on April 12th, 1921, and shows a healthy bunch of youngsters. Nearly all are the children of the tenants of these lands, and live within two miles of the Mitchell's Lake bat roost. The principal of the school told the author that the children attended school with remarkable regularity, and that malaria among them was unknown. Their physical appearance certainly bears out that statement.
The extreme southern end of the Mission Irrigated Farms Company's property, known as the Mitchell's Lake lands, is bounded by the end of the Lake, which is near the north bank of the Medina River. Here are numerous cottages occupied by the renters of the lands of the Company, the railroad station of Cassin, the cotton gin, the school house, and the commissary.
On the south side of the Medina River are quite a number of humble dwellings of the tillers of the adjoining fields, which number justifies the existence of a prosperous general store.
The Mitchell's Lake bat roost is about two miles from this little village, and only a few hundred yards from the lake. The general store is conducted by a merchant and his wife; and they are loud in their praises of the bat roost, which has so pleasantly changed conditions for them. In conversation recently with the author, the wife stated that when they erected their present building some eighteen years ago, mosquitoes were almost intolerable, during both day and night. They were so numerous behind the store counters as to make life miserable. There was no such thing as sitting out on the galleries at night; and, when they lighted a lamp in the store towards evening, mosquitoes simply swarmed in, being attracted by the light.
In addition to a stock of general merchandise, the store is provided with a small supply of staple patent medicines, among which was a liberal amount of malarial remedies. The lady states that formerly they purchased these in two-and-three-dozen lots, which found a ready sale; but, as time went on, the demand for them so decreased that they buy only one-quarter of a dozen vials to replenish their stock, and of these they sometimes sell an occasional bottle to some new-comer who brings the malarial infection from elsewhere. They now enjoy sitting on the galleries, the children romping and playing in the yard, and are not bothered in the least by mosquitoes.
While the statement may sound as an exaggeration or somewhat visionary, a little contemplation will soon convince the most skeptical individual that a bat roost is the most valuable thing on earth, because it saves the most precious of all things, human lives.
On September 1st, 1922, the Hon. Mayor of San Antonio, who thoroughly understood the bat proposition, on recommendation of the Chief Health Officer, attached the author to the Health Department for the express purpose of lecturing under the auspices of the Board of Health to all of the schools and colleges, public, private, Catholic, Protestant, white, and black on the value of bats as eradicators of malaria. The lectures, illustrated by numerous lantern slides, were given every afternoon in the different schools and colleges from the date of the appointment, to the end of the school term in May, 1923. Through the kindness of one of San Antonio's wealthy merchants much interested in the bat work, a prize of two dollars was offered in every school and college to the pupil writing the best composition on the lecture. The intense interest manifested by the children clearly indicates the thousands of life-long friends the little bat will have among the future citizens of San Antonio, as the lectures constituted an education given them in their tender years, the age of most ineradicable imprints.
Hammered Copper Bat.
Mitchell's Lake School Children. Note the healthy appearance of the youngsters.
The sight of a bat roost in practical operation, that is, to see the bats emerging, or better said swarming out toward evening and returning to the roost in the early morning hours, simply beggars description. This has been the unvarying and admitted experience of every one who has seen it. As an example of this, the author had considerable correspondence with a large landed corporation in Tampa, Florida, until he invited the Company to send some one to San Antonio to make a personal and thorough investigation, agreeing to give to their representative one entire day of his time. It was requested to take no one's word, not even the author's own, but to come here and see for himself. The company employed a splendid gentleman, in the person of Captain Holly S. Mason, U. S. Army, Judge Advocate's Department, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio. The author offered this gentleman all facilities for a most searching investigation; and, on viewing the roost toward evening, he very aptly declared that no amount of explanation could adequately describe the bat roost in practical operation, for it must be seen to be comprehended and appreciated. On receipt of the Captain's report, the Company wrote for the plans and specifications, and proceeded to build a magnificent bat roost on its property in Tampa.
About the same time the author had a like experience with the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad Company of Gulfport, Miss. After extensive correspondence, the same invitation was extended the Railroad Company, to send some one to make a personal investigation, again offering to give the representative one entire day of the author's time. The Company sent a very fine man in the person of Mr. W. P. James. He and the author went over the entire work, just as in the case of Captain Mason. This gentleman became very enthusiastic over what he saw, and readily admitted that the proposition must be seen in; order actually to understand and appreciate it. As a result of his visit, in a few days the Company wired for the plans and specifications, and a bat roost now graces the City of Gulfport, Miss.NUMEROUS LOCATIONS SUITABLE FOR BAT ROOSTS
It might be contended that a bat roost, built at a long distance from their normal homes would not be tenanted by bats. This contention is entirely nullified when we take into account the migratory habits of these creatures. In the extreme northern parts of the United States, they would find and inhabit the roosts during the spring and summer, just as swallows find the little bird houses erected for them when they return from the south. The author would not hesitate a moment to recommend the construction of bat roosts in all low lands and swamps and also along the sea coast to the northern limits of this country, but he would hesitate in recommending their construction in mountainous regions, as ft is in such environments that their normal homes, the caves, are found, and from which they leave to migrate to the low lands, swamps, and sea coast, where mosquitoes, their natural food, are most abundant. As an evidence of this, the bat roost constructed in Gulfport, Miss., and mentioned in the preceding paragraph, is distinctly in the low lands and miles away from their natural homes; yet within twenty-four hours after the roost was finished and "scented," bats had found it; and they have made it their home ever since. The same statement holds good concerning the roost built about the same time in Tampa.
Bat Roost. Erected near Colonia Elena of the Pontini Marshes, Province of Rome, October 31, 1924.
Having learned that bats will inhabit only large buildings, even if only temporarily, a bat roost should be built of the same size as those constructed in San Antonio, or even larger, and should be placed quite high; in fact the higher a bat roost stands, the better it is to the animals' liking ; besides it protects the structure from vandals and mischievous or thoughtless boys. The Municipal Bat Boost and the Alamo Heights Roost demonstrate the wisdom of this feature.
Within the past few years the fame of the bat roost has found its way not only out of Texas into sister states, but also Europe is taking substantial notice of this natural hygienic and economic measure. As before mentioned, the Belgian Government has issued an exhaustive pamphlet on the different methods of mosquito eradication and the prevention of malaria, in which there prominently appear cuts of the Mitchell's Lake bat roost, and of the chitinous remains of mosquitoes from bat guano, as reproduced in this book. In 1922, the author was visited by a Belgian Army officer, with whom he went over the entire work; and, as a result of this gentleman's visit, the Honorable Minister of the Colonies, writes: ''The researches and experience of Dr. Campbell we have followed with great interest by the competent services of our Department in Africa as well as here in Europe."
Signer Anselmo Altobelli, Italian Consul in San Antonio, took it upon himself to make a thorough investigation of the bat proposition, and he was so enthused by it that he immediately left for Italy to report on the ocular demonstration of the value of bats that he had witnessed. Lieut.-General Giovanni, Chief of Engineers of the Italian Army, has undertaken the task of introducing this natural hygienic and economic measure in his country and its colonies. Under date of November 30th, 1924, the General writes and 'encloses photographs of two bat roosts that have been built In Italy, one erected near Colonia Elena in the Pontine Marshes, the other in Terracina in the Province of Rome. Some time later the General wrote for three boxes of "bait" one for each of the roosts already built, and one for a bat roost ordered by the Italian War Department. On March 12th, 1925, the three boxes were shipped to him as shown in the photograph taken on board an Italian Steamship at Galveston, Texas. Still later, the General requested three more boxes, saying the War Department would build another roost, and that the Navy Department would build two at Brindisi. These boxes of "bait" also have been shipped to him. Imagine the SERVICE this one man will be able to render to his country, its people, and its agriculture, when the same two powerful agencies, viz., Old Dame Nature and Father Time, take possession of the Italian Roosts as they did with the Mitchell's Lake bat roost, and which they are sure to do! It will involve the elimination of the untold tribute which that valiant country pays annually to malaria. As already stated, the site of the Mitchell's Lake bat roost was selected because of existing conditions and environments for the propagation of mosquitoes, as no more exacting demands could possibly be made on a bat roost than those found there. They were there-long before the bat roost was built, and they are there to this day. In the year 1902, this lake was an insignificant body of water in the center of a very wide and deep vale. This was prepared to receive all of the sewage of the City of San Antonio, by building earthen dikes in suitable places. The topography of the land lent itself most admirably to this purpose, as the lake is 130 feet lower than the centre of the city. At that time a 30-inch outfall-sewer amply sufficed, but in 1914, a 60-inch one became necessary on account of the increase in population, so that now both the 30-inch and the 60-inch sewer pipes pour all of their contents into an open ditch, and this sewage finds its way by gravity into Mitchell's Lake. Conditions for mosquito propagation have not changed one iota since 1902, except to be made more favorable by reason of the increased volume of sewage and the correspondingly larger area of water in the lake.
Bat Roost. Erected on property of Signer Ugo Natali in Terracina, Province of Rome, October 31, 1924.
In 1911, the year the Mitchell's Lake bat roost was built, the President of the land company, as if to add burdens of proof for the roost to assume, threw an earthen dam across a wide and deep slough several hundred yards from the lake, intending to impound rain-water for the domestic use of his tenants. Had the gentleman given the projected building of this lake the proper consideration before contracting for its construction, it would not have been built. The water in this lake is not used for domestic purposes, as water fowl, wild ducks and water hens, contaminate it, when they fly freely back and forth from the large sewer lake. But the impounded rain-water, particularly the large pools of stagnant water created by seepage through the earthen dam, afford ideal conditions for the breeding of mosquitoes, and this has been going on ever since the dam was built.
"That virtue has its own reward" is a very old and true proverb, though it sometimes travels at a snail's pace; but the little bats will get their reward, because their virtue, their great good, was given to them by Old Mother Nature, and we know she never makes mistakes. They have many, many friends in San Antonio, where they have been rewarded for the benefit they confer. They expect only a home, and that has been given to them. But when it is sought elsewhere, away from their friends, to describe their virtues, in order that their great services may be widely known, they meet the adverse influence of ignorance, malice, envy, and prejudice. Nature has endowed them with habits that bring to us incomparable good that cannot be changed by pernicious voice or slanderous pen. They retain the superlative nobility which enrolls them among the first of Man's Best Friends.
There are other well-known artificial methods of combating malaria, and not for one moment would the author attempt to disparage any of them. We know that some of them are really effective, but are we going to rely upon and advocate one method only, be it oiling, draining, top-water minnows, bats, or what not, because we know it to be effective? That would be as ridiculous and nonsensical as it would have been for our high military authorities to send only our infantry to conquer the enemy in the World's War, because they knew that branch of the military service was really effective. Nay, we should, figuratively speaking, adopt infantry, cavalry, artillery, machine-guns, poison gas, bombs, mines, aeroplanes, or any other diabolical method ever employed successfully in the slaying of our fellow beings, towards conquering this hydra-headed monster, malaria, that slays more human beings and brings more suffering and misery than all the wars that have been fought on this mundane sphere of ours have ever caused.
Drainage, if done in a thoroughly workmanlike manner leaving no depressions for water to stand in, is the most effective method of eradicating the transmitting agent of malaria, as it abolishes the breeding place of mosquitoes; but even then, eternal vigilance, is the price of continued success. Unfortunately, in some instances this cannot be done, as the expense would be too great.
The oiling of standing water, such as ponds, pools, ditches, etc., where mosquitoes are breeding, is another very effective method, as the film of oil on the water drowns the mosquito which is in the water in the larval and pupal stage (wiggler and tumbler). In both of these stages, the mosquitoes require air, and as they come to the surface of the water to breathe, they encounter the film of oil, which their delicate breathing-tubes cannot penetrate; hence they drown. It often happens that, after oiling the desired places, a heavy downpour of rain will wash away the oil, and then the adult mosquito has again her breeding grounds all to herself. This calls for another oiling, with its concomitant expense, which oiling must be kept up and done thoroughly every ten or twelve days, or before the new crop of mosquitoes hatches out, until the end of the mosquito season. That this effective method is unreliable, if not carried out with the most rigid precision, is shown by a series of experiments which the author conducted some years ago; they are given herein, as they may prove of interest to persons engaged in the praiseworthy work of eradicating mosquitoes.
Three boxes of "bait" consigned to General Marini on board Italian S.S. Nicola-Odero, March 12, 1925. Captain, Steamship Agent, Chief Officer, Italian Consul, Chief Engineer, and Author.
As the argument and the subject involved are quite lengthy and entirely irrelevant to ALLEGATION THREE, the reader will be introduced to a good friend in the insect world, who is and always has been of inestimable value to all of us. The introduction will be found in the succeeding part of this book, under the title of "OBSERVATIONS ON DRAGON FLIES."
The author has watched the malarial situation at Mitchell's Lake for the last six years very very carefully, making a canvass of the district every two or three months, freely mingling with the people that occupy that former malarial hole; and he wishes to state, with all the vehemence at his command, that malaria has been eradicated from these lands, and that the eradication has been brought about solely by the cultivation of that transcendent little creature, the bat. These are the practical results obtained; and it is results that count.
The proposition of the cultivation of bats for their hygienic and commercial value having long passed the acid test of time, every community, large and small, should have one or more of these structures as part of its sanitary equipment. The first cost is the only cost, as a bat roost carries no overhead expense, and if properly built, will last for one Hundred years, continually exhibiting its two values, the commercial one paying handsome dividends on the investment.
A bat roost of the size of those shown in the several cuts, which have been built in San Antonio, will cost from twenty-five hundred to thirty-five hundred dollars, according to how fancy or pretentious it is desired to make it. The external construction can be made very ornamental; but, of course, there is to be no deviation in the plans of the internal construction, which are very complicated, and which, as has already been stated, were furnished by the only infallible architect, Old Dame Nature.
What has been accomplished by the cultivation of bats at Mitchell's Lake, can, with equal facility, be accomplished in any part of the world. If this natural hygienic and economic measure, unaided by any of the other well-known methods of malaria eradication, can banish malaria from such environments as those Mitchell's Lake presents, with its intake of the entire sewage of the City of San Antonio, some 15,000,000 gallons daily, how much more certain can we be in ridding any community of malaria, if assisted by some of the artificial methods!
The cost of conducting the sanitary department of any community for the protection of the public health entails one continued expenditure of public funds; and the contagious and infectious diseases are, of course, of the most vital concern. The proposition of the cultivation of bats, places this natural hygienic and economic measure, which concerns itself in the eradication of the most prevalent of these diseases, in a class distinctly by itself; and when its cost is compared with the other necessary expenditures for the protection of public property, the result gives to the statesman and the sanitarian an unassailable argument for its wide-spread adoption.
From the San Antonio Fire Department, the information is obtained that one of the up-to-date fire-fighting apparatuses, costs $11,000, and requires a day and a night shift, of twelve men each, for its operation. The wages of these men amount to $15,000 a year, and the cost of repairs, fuel, oil, tires, etc., comes to about $300.00 more. In ten years the apparatus and its operation will have cost $164,000, and the said apparatus will either have suffered a deterioration of 8 per cent annually or become obsolete, while a bat roost costing from $2,500 to $3,500 to build, and nothing to operate, at the end of ten years, instead of becoming obsolete or being taxed with a deterioration of 8 per cent, is in the very height of its usefulness hygienically and paying from 5 to 10 per cent on its original cost, moreover, it will continue doing so indefinitely.
The preceding dissertation concludes and answers ALLEGATION THREE.