Fear over Zika has some turning to bats to help protect themselves

Certified bat houses can house 300 bats -- which do eat flying insects

SAN ANTONIO – With the first Zika virus outbreak in the United States being announced earlier this week, concern over contracting the virus is continuing to grow.

Fear over the virus has some people looking for unique ways to protect themselves.

Reggie Regan, owner of Lonestar Woodcraft said that he believes people think that with enough bats, people can protect themselves.

Regan makes bat conservation international certified bat houses by hand. He's now having trouble keeping up with demand.

"This February and March we saw a dramatic increase, almost 35-percent over last year, and so I started looking at the stories being run across the country and there was a hysteria over Zika."

Regan said people are looking to get mother nature on their side in the battle against Zika. Reagan however doesn't want his customers to have a false sense of security.

The bats will eat flying insects and occasionally the mosquitoes and that may reduce your risk but that is not the primary way to reduce your risk of the Zika virus, West Nile, or just plain irritating mosquitoes," Regan said.

Regan suggests sticking to insect repellant and going outside during the right time of day to really keep the biting bugs away. He still encourages people to purchase bat houses, but for the right reasons.

"Putting up a bat house provides alternate routes for the bats because we are taking away their natural habitat every day," Regan said.

One cedar home created by Regan can house up to 300 sleeping bats.

The bats most commonly found in San Antonio is the Mexican Freetail bat, and they weigh roughly the amount of two quarters.

The bats may not be the ultimate weapon against Zika or West Nile, but by having the flying mammals nearby you will have fewer pests around. 

"The bat cave that is just outside the Bracken Cave has 20 million plus bats coming out and every night they eat in excess of 140 tons of agricultural pests and flying insects," Regan said.