For several reasons, including how they’re depicted in popular culture (e.g. blood-suckers, disease carriers, vampires), bats seem to creep people out even more than snakes. But are bats really that bad? They devour insects, including mosquitos, by the droves– so much so that some people grow special bat gardens and build bat houses to ATTRACT them to their homes, using them as natural insect pest control. So, what’s the truth about the bats found in this area?
As it turns out, bats aren’t only essential to our environment, but they also benefit humanity in more ways than one. In what follows, learn why you should stop fearing bats and start appreciating them.
Benefits of Bats in an Ecosystem
Our world is home to over 1,400 species of bats, and each of them plays similar yet slightly different roles in their ecosystems:
- Pollination: Similar to bees, some species of bats (mainly those in tropical and subtropical environments) love drinking sweet nectar from flowers. As they move from flower to flower, they spread pollen. Bats are essential to several agricultural plants, like bananas and avocadoes. Without pollinating bats, many ecosystems would become disrupted and eventually die.
- Seed Dispersal: Some bats eat fruit, playing a significant role in distributing seeds to promote the survival of forests. These bats are found in Africa, Asia, Australia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and some pacific islands.
- Insect control: The most well-known benefit of bats is their ability to control insect populations. They do so by consuming massive amounts of insects (in fact, one brown bat ingests 600 mosquitoes per hour). As such, they limit the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture.
- Prey: Just as bats play the role of predator in the food chain, they also play the role of prey. Many animals, like hawks, owls, falcons, and raccoons, would not survive without relying on bats as a food source.
- Supporting Cave Ecosystems: Bats also support cave ecosystems. Many creatures living in caves rely on the nutrients bats bring to the ecosystem through their guano (poop)– which is a better fertilizer than cow manure.
Benefits of Bats to Humans
Bats provide many benefits to humans, and some might be more surprising than others. Not only do they benefit us indirectly by maintaining ecosystems and controlling insect populations, but they’ve also contributed to human innovation.
- Saving Humans Money: Studies estimate that bats consume enough agricultural pests to save the US Corn industry over $1 billion per year in crop damage and pesticide costs. Across all agricultural activities in the US, bats save us over $3 billion per year.
- Disease Control: Bats control viruses spread by mosquitoes by controlling their populations. Many diseases would be much more prevalent if it weren’t for bats.
- Inspiration for Technological Innovation: The bats’ membrane wings and echolocation abilities have inspired several technological advances, such as drones, sonar navigation systems, and the wingsuits used by base jumpers. None of these advances would exist if it weren’t for bats.
- Inspiration for Scientific Innovation: Scientists have also benefited from studying bats. They’re currently looking into vampire bat saliva, which contains a chemical that prevents blood clots from forming. The substance may soon be used to treat human heart patients.
- Contributing to Tequila Production: Margarita lovers could not live without bats. Bats are the only pollinator of the agave plant, the primary ingredient in tequila.
Benefits of Bats in Your Yard
Bats control populations of beetles, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, and moths, but they don’t just consume the insects on your property; they also act as insect repellant. Insects can hear bats from up to 100 feet away and avoid those areas at all costs.
Some people even invite bats to their doorstep, building bat boxes and posting them around their homes.
Another benefit of bats in your yard comes from bat guano, which fertilizes your lawns and gardens.
While bats have many benefits when they reside on your property, they can cause problems when they come within the walls of your home. Their guano, while a perfect fertilizer, can carry disease and cause human health problems when left within confined areas.
In these situations, it’s best to call in a wildlife removal expert. If you reside in Western New York, WNY Wildlife & Exclusion has you covered with the most humane and effective bat removal services. If you think bats might be in your home, call us at (716) 203-1166, or schedule an inspection online.