A Talk on the Wild Side.
In honor of Bat Week, Open Spaces will celebrate one bat as a Bat of the Day every day this week. Of course, almost any of the world’s 1,300 bats deserve to be a Bat of the Day somewhere. They’re all pretty awesome. And helpful!
|Little brown bats. Photo by Ann Froschauer/USFWS|
Bats eat tons of pest insects. A mother little brown bat, for instance, can eat more than her own weight in insects in just one night. Granted, little brown bats are, well, little – less than four inches long and weighing less than half an ounce – but their voraciousness gives you just one example of bats’ helpful eating habits. Scientists estimate that bats are worth almost $4 billion in pest control for U.S. farmers, Bat Conservation International says, and that means $4 billion worth of pesticides that don’t get into the ecosystem.
Bats are key pollinators and seed-spreaders. Bats not only keep pests off many plants, including a lot we eat, but also pollinate important plants, like the banana, and spread seeds. For instance, fruit bats eat the fruit pulp of a cacao tree and discard the bean, which may grow into a new tree. Without this help, we might not have much chocolate, which comes from cacao trees, because the fruit won’t fall from the tree by itself.
Bats keep us healthy. Many of the insects bats are eating can carry nasty diseases. In just one hour, a single little brown bat can catch 600 mosquitoes, which can carry malaria and West Nile virus. We also obtain many medicines from plants that rely on bats for their survival.
For their help fighting malaria and itchy mosquito bites, the little brown bat is our first Bat of the Day.
- Matt Trott, External Affrairs