Haverhill Junior Girl Scout Aims to Protect Pollinators with Environmentally Friendly Bat House

Cottrell Duclos, center, holds new bat house with local Junior Girl Scout troop 67111 leaders Kay Wilson and Michelle Wickwire. (WHAV News photograph.)

(Additional photograph below.)

Cottrell Duclos, a Junior Girl Scout with local troop 67111, knows what many don’t—the use of pesticides to control mosquitos is harming bees, important pollinators, but there is a natural solution.

The 11-year-old, daughter of Michelle Wickwire and Thomas Duclos, took a major step Wednesday toward solving the problem at Haverhill’s Plug Pond recreation area.

“I wanted a more friendly way to get rid of mosquitoes,” she says.

On her way to earning a Bronze Award, the third highest award in the Girl Scouts, she arranged for the installation of a bat house to encourage local bats to settle and feast on the mosquito population. The idea all started as quest to earn a Girl Scout Journey badge during a project at Pentucket Lake Elementary School.

“Last year, my troop did a project on building a butterfly garden and that made us more aware of pollinators. The way we spray right now to get rid of mosquitoes is hurting our pollinators,” she explains.

Troop leaders Wickwire and Kay Wilson encouraged Cottrell’s journey. Wilson explains.

“When the girls earn a Bronze Award, they have to complete a Journey, which is what we did there. They have to come up with an idea of what they want to do—something that is sustainable and benefits their community so it can be long lasting. Because we were focusing on pollinators, Cottrell came up with the idea that we could focus on other pollinators and that led to researching building a bat house,” she explains.

Wilson said Plug Pond was selected because water at the popular spot naturally attracts mosquitos. Cottrell worked with fellow Junior Girl Scouts Callie Petrycki and Ariana Parsh.

The bat house was installed high atop a utility building at Plug Pond by her father and city recreational Department staffer Robert Dunford. Cottrell, who has studied bat behavior, says there are three chambers in the bat house and the mammals will likely take up residence next spring.

When the weather improves, the Scouts plan an informational display, complete with brochures, at the recreation area.

Cottrell is entering sixth grade in the fall at John Greenleaf Whittier School.

Haverhill recreation Department staffer Robert Dunford helps secure the bat house at Plug Pond. (WHAV News photograph.)

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