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Summerland Key, Florida

Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower

Bat house that has only ever housed bat for one night; they all flew away and never came back. 

A historic site in Monroe County, Florida, the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower (also known as Perky’s Bat Tower) has been on the U.S. Register of Historic Places since 1982. Built in 1929 by Richter Clyde Perky, a fish lodge owner, the tower was designed to control the Lower Keys’ mosquito problem. The problem: When the bats were put into the tower, they all flew away and never came back.

Built using plans purchased from Dr. Charles Campbell of Texas, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, the tower was a complete failure. It was supposed to be a deluxe bat house that the animals would continue to come back to so they could feast on the mosquitoes in the area. This tower is only one of fourteen Campbell towers that were built around the world (only three remain standing); the other two are in Texas.

Even though the tower is on the register of historic places, maintenance is rarely, if ever, undertaken. While still in sturdy condition, local teens and vandals often make their tower their own with carvings and litter. But ultimately the tower appears much the same as it did when it was first erected.

Update September 2017: Hurricane Irma destroyed the historic tower. 

Know Before You Go

Take US-1 South into the Florida Keys. At mile marker 17 take a right hand turn onto Bat Tower Road. Veer to the right at the road fork.