Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bats help Battle Crop Pests

Bats get a bad rap. These crop and farm-friendly creatures consume enormous amounts of insects daily.
They eat the beetles, moths, and leafhoppers that cost landowners billions of dollars in damages each year.
Agricultural ally vs. insects.
The benefits of bats to farmers goes on and on. A few examples:
1) Just 150 big brown bats can eat enough cucumber beetles each summer to protect farmers from 33
million of the rootworm larvae. This pest costs American farmers an estimated billion dollars a year.

2) Bats from just three caves near San Antonio, Texas, eat about a million pounds nightly of insects, including many costly pests.

3) A Georgia pecan grower is no longer losing 30% of his crop to hickory shuckworms. He installed bat
houses-- one of them hosts a colony of 2,000 bats.

4) A little brown bat can eat 1200 insects in an hour.

Fact vs. myth on bats
Misconceptions abound on bats. For instance, they are not blind, they do not become entangled in human hair and they seldom transmit disease to other animals or humans.
Some bats can maneuver like helicopters to pluck insects from foliage, while others fly 10,000 feet high and dive like jets.

How can you help?
Like most animals, bats suffer from habitat loss. Their primary cause of decline is destruction of natural roosts by humans.
Landowners can help by building and putting up bat houses on their property, or working with highway departments to create roosts under bridges.  Mines that are closed can continue to provide habitat and openings for bats.
The district has bat boxes for sale, and can also provide plans for those who would like to built their own.

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