Naturalist’s Corner – Bats!

Naturalist’s Corner – Bats!

Posted October 31, 2019

Written by Kyla Isakson

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Photo of a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) (top left) with White Nose Syndrome in a cave, courtesy of USGS.

 

Some people dislike bats or think they are scary, but these flying mammals are just misunderstood. Bats are helpful creatures that eat disease-carrying mosquitoes and crop-destroying grasshoppers and beetles. Little brown bats can eat around 150 mosquitoes in just 15 minutes! They also help to pollinate plants such as peaches, bananas, almonds, and avocados when they feed on the nectar from flowers on several different plants.

Some bat species migrate to warmer areas during the winter months, and some hibernate in caves. In the last 13 years, some hibernating species have experienced population loss due to White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS is caused by a fungus that damages skin tissue, resulting in dehydration that leads the bats to stir, leave their caves, and venture into the harsh winter conditions. Researchers have begun to look for solutions, but there is still much more to understand about this infection. Bats are gentle and clean animals, and they typically stay away from people. They do live in areas near people, so building bat houses in your area will help provide a place for them to live.

Next time you see a bat, take a moment to appreciate these amazing animals and all that they do.

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