Bats play a very important role in many places around the world. There are plants that depend partly or wholly on bats to pollinate and or spread the seeds of the plant. There are other bats which assist in pest control by eating up to 100 mosquitoes an hour preventing the West Nile Virus, and eating other insects that destroy the crops of farmers.
Many people are afraid of bats, and there is no reason to be. Bats are a friend to mankind and to the world as a whole. There are over 500 plant species which rely on bats to take care of pollination, including but not limited to the banana, cocoa and mango fruits. Disease from insects have killed off more than a third of these plants, and bats help secure the continuation of a healthy harvest.
The vast majority of bats, including the seven or eight species found here on Long Island, are insectivores. Their ability to sense their surroundings by emitting ultrasonic pulses produced in the larynx (200 pulses per second), and hearing the pulses echo back from objects, is truly astonishing. Although they are nocturnal and rely on this form of echolocation to hunt, bats have eyes and can see. Bats have remarkable longevity for such a tiny animal. One of our bat species, the Little Brown Bat that tops the scales at a mere third of an ounce, may reach 24 years of age!
Here are just a few of the myths surrounding bats:
- Bats do not have a high incidence of rabies (less than 0.5%). But if a bat allows you to approach, it is probably sick and should be avoided.
- Bats flying over your head are not trying to attack you. They are catching insects that are attracted to you.
- Vampire bats prefer farm animals such as cattle or birds to humans.
- And the last most important: bats never get tangled in people’s hair!
Many people misunderstand bats, they think that they are a pest. Bats are actually the Pest Controller! Thousands upon thousands of insects are eaten every night by bats. The analogy that they suck your blood is one of the biggest urban myths out there! They will however suck the blood out of the mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile Virus which makes them a good friend!
Over 50% of the bat population do not survive infancy. A female bat has only 1 offspring a year thus, the bat population recovery is very slow. It is important that people are educated about bats to assist in getting the bat population to increase.
Everyone needs to become more aware and interested in bats and to help take action o protect them. The Dees’ Nursery has Bat Houses available to help in protecting these valuable members of our ecosystem! Stop in today and ask about our Bat Houses!