BAT FACT: Bats are the only mammal that can fly!
BATS ARE POLLINATORS! Bats pollinate over 700 plants, some of which we use for food and medicine. Wild varieties of many of our most valuable crops rely on bats for their survival. These include bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, and many others. Nectar-eating bats do this by pollinating flowers, just like bees. As they travel from flower to flower drinking nectar, they transfer pollen from one flower to another, which causes these plants to produce fruit (and seeds).
BATS ARE VORACIOUS INSECT EATERS: Bats are a best-friend to farmers by eating their weight in pests every day, reducing the amount of pesticides farmers need to use, which also means less pesticides in the environment, and they reduce the amount of produce damaged by pests. It is estimated that bats in the United States have save us somewhere between $3.7 and $54 billion in pest control services every year. Bats eat bugs that attack nut trees, cotton, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and more, and they eat MOSQUITOS!
BAT POO IS GOOD TOO! There are several uses for bat poo, known as "guano". It can be used as a soil conditioner, enriching the soil and improving drainage and texture. Bat guano is a suitable fertilizer for plants and lawns, making them healthy and green. It can be used as a natural fungicide and controls nematodes in the soil as well. In addition, bat guano makes an acceptable compost activator, speeding up the decomposition process.
BAT MYTHS: Myths are a problem because they make people fear bats, so let’s dispel a few. Bats do not get stuck in your hair. Bats are not blind, so the old saying “blind as a bat” doesn’t hold water. Bats see with their eyes and they have echolocation abilities. They are super-seers! Bats will not catch things thrown into the air – please do not do this as you might injure a bat. And finally, bats will not suck human blood. There are 3 species of vampire bats, but they prefer cows. Mosquitos, on the other hand….
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? You can help bats by creating and protecting habitat for them: If you have old or dead trees on your property, leave them standing (if it is safe to do so). Bat houses are another great way to provide bats with a safe place to live. If you know where bats are roosting, do not disturb them, especially in early summer when pups are being born and can’t fly, or during the winter when they are hibernating. It is also against the law to kill or relocate bats, so always call a professional. (Or, contact me, I can help.) Faith@dlasc.com
PHOTO CREDIT: This is Betsy, a big brown bat that is an education ambassador at Centre Wildlife Care because she cannot be released.
Post authored by Faith M. De Boef
Snetsinger Butterfly Garden Knowledge Series