Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bats are nature's mosquito control

Bat at rest on barbed wire - #1
During my usual ramblings I came across this most unusual circumstance - a bat at rest on a barbed wire fence. The bats hunt with great frequency in the pasture and are a welcome component of our Lowcountry ecosystem. With a healthy respect for nature, I observed the small, hairy creature and then let it be. Sometimes in nature you can't explain why you are witness to something until it becomes clear after the fact. The next day was very warm and windy and I came across the same bat, but this time hanging distended from the barbed wire, as its leathery wingtip had become impaled on one point of wire. Why its keen radar missed that barbed wire is unknown, but it was a fatal mistake. Using pliers to unhook the bat's wing, it fell to the ground and expired. While I am sorry to report this bat's demise, I am glad to share the benevolence bats provide us in the form or mosquito control. With our early spring in 2012, the bats are obviously out on patrol already, and we should appreciate the role they play in nature.
Bat in distress on barbed wire - #2

SCDNR Press Release:

Bats are nature’s pest patrol and the major predator of night-flying insects, according to Mary Bunch, biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). All of South Carolina’s bats are insect-eaters, and since bats forage for several hours a night, a single colony can provide significant local control for flying insects, including mosquitoes.

Since bats are such an important natural form of insect pest control, feasting on agricultural pests such as corn borers, June bugs, gypsy moths, grain moths, cutworm moths, potato beetles and even grasshoppers, it is in our own best interests to protect them, Bunch said.

What can people do to help? Avoid disturbing maternity colonies and hibernating bats—even slight disturbance is harmful‑and never shoot, poison or otherwise harm bats. Nuisance bats can be encouraged to move elsewhere without killing them. “Bat exclusion is the only effective way to evict unwanted bats,” Bunch said, “and it doesn’t require the use of any chemicals. In fact, there are no effective bat repellents. Exclusion uses one-way exits; bats leave to forage in warm weather, and when they return, they can’t get back in.”

Bat houses provide shelter for bats and are becoming increasingly popular as the public becomes more aware of the beneficial nature of bats. Bat boxes are available in many lawn and garden stores, and do-it-yourselfers can build a good one relatively cheaply.

Bat on ground beneath Barbed wire - #3
Bats have more in common with humans than most people realize. Like humans, bats are mammals; they have hair, give birth to living young and feed them on milk from mammary glands. The bones in a bat’s wing are like those of the human arm and hand, although bat finger bones are elongated and connected by a double membrane of skin to form the wing.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I never knew that bats were nature’s mosquito control. Well, if only I wasn’t afraid of them, I think I can keep some in my place. Hehe! I know mosquitoes are really annoying and controlling their population can also be done on our own. We just have to make sure to eliminate the mosquitoes’ breeding places. :)

    -Maurise Gelman-


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