To The Bat Roost!
Effective or not, you couldn’t really say Campbell’s bat roosts were a hit as only 16 in total were built in the United States and Europe (Italy). Of those, just two of the structures made it to the modern age: Steeves’ Hygieostatic Bat Roost in Comfort, TX and the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower (also known as the Perky Bat Tower) on Lower Sugarloaf Key, Florida, about 15 miles east of Key West. (image via Florida Keys – Public Libraries)
Word On A Wing
“Perky” refers to the roost’s builder, Richter Clyde Perky, a Denver-based real estate developer looking to broaden his horizons. Perky wanted to build a fishing resort on Lower Sugarloaf Key but faced a formidable obstacle… no, not hurricanes, mosquitoes! “in the late afternoon, you would just have to rake the bugs off your arm,” according to Perky’s construction manager. Besides their voracious biting and the resulting itchy aftermath, the blood-sucking bugs spread diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. What to do? (image via Florida Keys – Public Libraries)
Guano In 60 Seconds
Perky preferred that only the fish should be doing the biting; anything else would be bad for business. Thus, he must have thought he’d stumbled upon the Holy Grail when he picked up a copy of “Bats, Mosquitoes, and Dollars”, a book authored by none other than Dr. Charles Campbell. Credit being easily available in early 1929, Perky bought a set of bat roost blueprints from Campbell and spent in the neighborhood of $10,000 to build a towering infernal in his neighborhood. Ta da! There was just one thing missing… bats. (image via donielle)
Flew The Coop
As the old expression goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Similarly, one can introduce bats to a new bat roost but they’re more likely to fly off in search of their former home… as Perky was to find out the first time he bought & brought a shipment of Mexican Free-tailed Bats to his spanking new bat roost. Ditto for the second time. The ultimately useless bat roost itself remained upright through dozens of hurricanes, as if to mock its hard-bitten builder. Finally in October of 2017, Hurricane Irma’s fierce Category 4 gusts knocked the venerable (and proudly bat-free) cypress wood tower onto its side where it’s… not looking so Perky anymore. (image via Cayobo)
Do bats creep you out? Hey, it could be worse. Check out the Hedge Dog: Creepy Cute ‘Bunny Harvestman’ Spider!