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Mosquitoes' worst nightmare

Photos by Sara Hacking Boy Scout Taylor Anderson displays two of the bat houses that are part of a project to help him obtain his eagle rank. Four of the houses will be erected at Wadena parks.

Bat "condos" are Boy Scout Taylor Anderson's chosen project to earn his eagle rank.

"There's a huge need for bat houses," Anderson said.

Individual brown bats, the most common bat in Minnesota, eat an average of 20 pounds of mosquitoes a year, he said. Nobody likes mosquitoes and they can carry disease.

Anderson is leading a Boy Scout project to build six bat houses. One will be used by Knob Hill Sportsman's Club, which provided the shop and the materials. Three will be placed at Sunnybrook Park and one is slated for Blacks Grove Park. And there is one extra. The city of Wadena is providing utility poles to lift the condos 12-14 feet in the air.

Anderson and his crew had to put in 100 hours on the project to help him obtain his eagle rank. Becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in Boy Scouts, has been a lifelong goal, he said.

"I always knew I was going to ... get my eagle rank," he said.

It's hard to believe he's already at the point of graduating from high school, he said.

Anderson has a few more merit badges to finish up in the next couple of weeks, he said. He turns 18 next month and that is his deadline to earn his eagle rank. Aside from accomplishing his lifelong goal, Anderson has some extra incentive to get the rank. He was accepted to the University of Evansville in Indiana and they have promised him a scholarship if he becomes an Eagle Scout.

He plans to earn a business degree. He would even like to get into business this summer making some bat houses, he said. He'd also like to get other communities involved in building bat houses.

Each house holds 250 bats. The homes are equipped with a landing pad covered with nylon mesh to give the bats something to grab onto, Anderson said. The inside is purposefully scratched to help the bats climb up into the house. Vents on the front and sides provide air for the bats. The roof is sealed with caulk and covered with tin to protect the wood, he said. The houses are covered with two coats of primer and two coats of black exterior-grade paint.

"It's meant to last," Anderson said.

The houses are painted black to help them warm up in the morning sun, he said. He looked for places to put them so they will get the sun's rays in the morning and be in the shade in the afternoon. At Sunnybrook condos will be on either side of the Bark Park and in the south side camping area.

Absolute Pest Elimination's Lenny Anderson, "the bat guy," helped him a lot with the project, Anderson said.

"I think this is a really important project," he said. "It's really important we have bats."