Italians are turning to one of nature's most misunderstood creatures to save them from the mosquitoes which plaque the country in the summer months.
Bat nesting boxes have been flying off the shelves of Italian supermarkets as people try to encourage the insect-eating mammals to move in — and spare them sleepless nights.
The Co-op chain of supermarkets said last week that it had sold over 12,000 bat boxes at £25 each since they went on sale at 160 of its stores in April.
One bat can consume 10,000 insects in one night, of which around 2,000 will be mosquitoes, according to Paolo Agnelli of Florence's Museum of Natural History.
He added that relying on bats would allow people to dispense with toxic chemical insecticides that could kill bees and butterflies.
Authorities in the city of Modena hope that bats can stop the onslaught of the tiger mosquito, which has infected hundreds of people with the serious viral disease chikungunya fever.