March 20, 2017

Bats: The Real Dark Knights


 Bats are among some of the most interesting and misunderstood animals that we inhabit Earth with. Urban myths about bats usually involve them flying into people's hair, vampires and carrying rabies. These misconceptions about bats influence public actions against them which result in habitat destruction and a lack of protected animal status among other problems. Bats are sensitive to pollution and pesticide levels and they can indicate serious issues with the surrounding environment. Without adequate protections, bats, like many other animals, will cease to exist in nature and the ecosystems will suffer.

Bats have evolved to be the only mammals capable of truly flying. They exist in every ecosystem except for the extreme polar and desert ecosystems. Bats are valuable to ecosystems and economies by being major pollinators and eating vast amounts of insects. Bats that feed on nectar/pollen help maintain plant populations and help with fruit production which in turn help support other animals. The bats that feed on fruit in these ecosystems help spread seeds to support healthy vegetation growth. Bat waste, commonly known as guano, is a nutrient rich natural fertilizer and further helps with vegetation growth in an area.

Roughly 70% of bats eat insects while the remaining percentages feed on pollen, fruit, and small animals. Bats have evolved the use of echolocation. This allows them to send and receive sound waves to locate prey. The increase in illnesses spread by mosquitoes, such as Zika and West Nile virus, can be combated by helping bat populations. Mosquitoes make up a significant amount of specific bats diets. A single small bat can capture roughly 500 to 1,000 insects an hour! Multiply that number by the size of a small bat colony and you are looking at a serious dent in insect populations. In addition to helping fight against mosquitoes, bats also help with our agriculture. The value of bats to the agricultural industry alone is valued roughly from $3 to $50 billion a year. There have been many studies that show various beneficial applications of bats for crops.

Bats help people in many ways that are generally taken for granted. A healthy bat population can alleviate many issues people are facing without requiring the use of harsh industrial chemicals. Setting up a bat friendly environment in your backyard can help your summer mosquito problems. Bats have throughout the years been stigmatized by false public rhetoric, much like hemp. With increasing public awareness, both are on track to change the way we live on Earth for the better, the way nature intended.

‘Til next type- M.