October is Bat Appreciation Month. Bats have gotten a bad rap over the years from writers of horror fiction, but they are actually good guys. They are not only pollinators but an outstanding source of pest control. Here are some cool facts about these fellow mammals.
- Bats are the only mammals that fly. There are some mammals, like gliders, who can glide, but mammals are the only ones with wings.
- They can live 20 to 40 years.
- Bats are not blind. Their eyesight is actually better than ours. It’s just that their hearing is even better than their vision. They can locate human hair by a process called “echolocation.” That’s why they don’t really get caught in human hair….
- Bats are even good to each other—sharing food with bats that may not have gotten to eat.
- There are about 1100 species in the world—only three species are vampire bats—and none of them are native to the U. S.
- Some bats are nectar eaters. These are responsible for pollinating over 500 species of plants. Some of the best known—avocados, guavas, mangos, bananas, and agave. That’s right—no bats, no tequila!
- Bats are very good at dispersing seeds, helping to diversify their habitats—including those of the cacao. So no bats, maybe no chocolate either!
- A mother bat generally has just one baby a year. She can locate her baby in a cave filled with hundreds of bats by its sound and smell.
- Many are insectivores and can eat their weight—or more—in insects every night.
- The largest bat in the world is the Flying Fox, native to the South Pacific. Its wingspan can reach up to six feet!
- The smallest bat in the world is Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat, also known as a Bumblebee bat, native to Thailand. It weighs less than one penny and is only an inch long.
To encourage bats to dine in your yard, have a water source, such as a birdbath. Planting night-fragrant flowers to attract night insects may help. You could also hang a “bat house” under eaves.
Don’t use pesticides in your yard. Since I’m an organic gardener, that suits me just fine. I’ll sit on my deck and let the bats do the work….
The next time you see a bat, say thank you. They’re helping keep the mosquitoes in check so you can enjoy your yard on summer evenings.