Batman… one of every kid’s favorite superheroes. Why is it we aren’t nearly as fond of the real little brown guys that are out there using their superpowers? I suppose it’s because they fly instead of driving The Batmobile. Maybe it’s because people just aren’t aware of what those superpowers are. Let’s clear that up.
WHAT DO BATS ACTUALLY DO FOR US?
We can start with “save us money.” Bats consume insects that feed on our crops. As a free service to our farmers, this is the equivalent of an estimated $3 billion dollars put back into our economy. Superpower indeed.
And here is another one. Bats eat mosquitoes. Bats eat LOTS of mosquitoes. One little brown bat can consume up to 1,000 mosquitoes every hour. You’re starting to wonder why you ever had a negative thought about bats, aren’t you?
I’m sure that at some point in your life you heard that bats can bite and that they carry rabies. Well, mosquitoes definitely bite and they carry West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis just to name two of many. In all of the United States, there are only 1 to 2 cases of rabies per year. According to the Berkshire Eagle, between 2000 and 2010, 67 cases of West Nile Virus were reported in Massachusetts. Twelve people have died in this state from EEE or WNV since 2000.
As you begin to notice ads for bat extermination how about considering how to protect these useful creatures instead?
HOW CAN WE HELP PROTECT THE BAT POPULATION?
In Berkshire, the bat population has been nearly wiped away due to a fungus that they contract during hibernation. We hope that doesn’t happen here in Central and Eastern, Massachusetts.
Knowing how important they are to fighting mosquito-borne illness, we must do our part to protect bats when we can. Bat houses are great! Giving the bats somewhere safe to live, protects them AND keeps them out of your home. They also invite them onto your property to directly help you with your mosquito problem. Those can be purchased for as little as $10. Also leaving parts of your yard as natural as possible is a good idea. Not only do bats roost in live trees, they like dead ones too.
Become educated and pass the word. The more we know, the more our neighbors know, the better we take care of our ecosystem.