Bats as a means of controlling insects
By Joseph Parish
Over the years most people have developed a destructive viewpoint regarding bats. These small creatures must be one of the most misunderstood animals within the United States. Much of this confusion results from fictional television and movie productions and general consumer ignorance of the bats themselves.
Many of these bat myths are simply not true at all. Bats are not particularly prone to rabies. You are actually more likely to become infected with rabies as a result of a neighborhood dog or perhaps a wild raccoon rather than a bat. Often people assume the bat droppings to be a source of tuberculosis and other serious diseases but this is not the least bit true. Contrary to beliefs bats are not aggressive and do not attack people. Possibly this notion originated from the impression that if you happen to have a large number of insects flying around your body the bats tend to swoop closer to you in order to get the food however their radar is exceptional and it keeps them from hitting you. Bats are not dirty animals covered with lice as many people believe but rather they are clean creatures, as this allows them to fly at their best.
Many people fail to realize the enormous value that these animals perform in our environment as they consume enormous amounts of insects on a daily basis. All the bats which are found in America feed primarily upon insects. The facts of the situation are that the bat is symbolized exclusively as the major predator of night flying bugs and insects. A single bat is capable of consuming 600 to 1,000 mosquitoes or other pests per hour. This is one heck of an insect deterrent.
As mentioned our bats here in America feed exclusively upon insects however in some parts of the world bats can be found that will eat fruit as well. In addition there are a few plant species which rely entirely upon the bat for its pollination.
There are 45 different species of bats that exist in America with nine of these appearing on the endangered species list. Those nine species are the gray bat, the Indiana bat, Ozark big-eared bats, the Virginia big-eared bats, the lesser long-nosed bats, Mexican long-nosed bat, the Hawaiian hoary bats, the little Mariana fruit bats and the Mariana fruit bats. The cave dwelling bats population is also dropping in numbers and may very well appear on the list in the near future.
There is a new disease which has been killing off huge numbers of American bats. It is known as the WNS or the White Nose Syndrome. This disease has been the cause of major mortalities of bats from New England to Virginia. It is characterized by white fungus appearing on the nose of the bats. It generally, causes unusual behavior and, eventually death for the bat. Since the state of Delaware does not have an abundance of caves for the bats to hibernate in we have not recognized the affects of this disease as other nearby states have. Estimates of bat deaths have been placed as high as 1 million this past year. However, since many of Delaware’s bats migrate to and from other states we can expect our populations to contact the disease as well. It is important to state here that there has been no reports of human illnesses attributed to the bats WNS.
Bats provide us with a valuable service in controlling not only night flying insects such as mosquitoes but they also benefit the farmers in the area by consuming many of the insect pests which affects our crops. These bothersome insects include cucumber beetles, the ground beetles and the leaf hopper bugs. Therefore, as you can readily see it is greatly to our benefit to have bats in our locale.
Since these animals are becoming endangered you can help the situation. We need to provide them with a clean, comfortable home from which they can operate. I would recommend installing several bat houses in your backyard or around your garden area. Remember these small creatures eat a lot of insects. If you would prefer to build a bat house instead of purchasing one there are many excellent samples on the internet. I have included some additional PDF files in this article on bats and as a bonus since Halloween is very close at hand their is a holiday project as well.
Copyright @2009 Joseph Parish
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