Walter Kuchta, the self-proclaimed "Red Adair of bat control," drove his pale green truck down from Baltimore to the Daleview West Apartments in Riverdale the other day and quickly accomplished a task that the building's management had been unable to achieve for months.
The apartments were infested by bats, several children who lived there had undergone painful series of rabies shots and the county was about to declare the dwelling "unfit for human habitation" when Kutcha was called in as a last resort.
The battle between the sonar-guided creatures and the Baltimore bat-killer was no contest. Within two days, the same bats that had survived the best efforts of maintenance men and local pest-control experts were "zapped" by "P.C.O." (Pest Control Operator) Kuchta.
With his heavy blue overalls, gloves and yellow Levi Garrett [chewing Tobacco] cap, Kuchta maneuvered his way up to the bats' remote roosting spots in the attic monday morning and discovered that there were at least 70 of the small brown flying mammals up there.
Using an electric prod, he started plucking off the bats hanging within reach. "I zapped all I could," said Kuchta. "Some were crawling on the wall and were not too swift. I got those with my hand."
Kuchta then vacuumed 20 pounds of bat dung from the rafters, used an air compressor to scatter other bats from their hiding places, and finally spread Rozol -- a poison -- in the roosting areas. The bats groom themselves with this powder, lick their young with it, and eventually ingest enough to kill themselves.
In less than a month, by "kuchta's estimate, all the bats that terrorized the apartments should be dead.
Prince George's County officials said that if the bat-proofing works, the residents will be allowed to stay in their apartments. "It looks like management is taking care of the problem," said Joe Healy, acting director of licenses and permits for the county.
For Kuchta and his partner, William Fell, however, it was just another job. The firm usually gets assignments that other exterminators refused to handle.
Their efforts apparently have satisfied the residents of Daleview West Apartments. "Dozens of us came very close to having our homes taken away from us," said tenant Jo Paoletti. "All we ever wanted was to have them made safe and livable." CAPTION: Illustration, no caption