Although bats are often misunderstood, they are critically important to ecosystems around the globe. Not only do some eat thousands of insects which helps to reduce insect-borne diseases like malaria, they are also essential pollinators and seed dispersers. According to Bat Conservation International, there are more than 1,200 species of bats in the world, which account for about one-fifth of all the worlds mammalian species put together.
Bats have inhabited all except the most extreme ecosystems on earth, and their populations are declining everywhere. This is of great concern to scientists and why bat conservation is so important.
Some Bats Are Insect Eaters
More than 60 percent of bat species are insectivores, and some can eat their body weight in insects in a single night. This is significant not just because they keep those pesky mosquitoes away from our patios, but they also help control disease and act as natural pesticides for crops. Diseases like dengue fever and malaria kill millions of people each year, making the mosquito the deadliest animal on earth. Bats help to control the mosquito populations around the globe, ensuring that these deadly diseases don’t take even more human lives. Bats also act as a natural insecticide by eating a variety of insects that damage food crops.
Some Bats Are Pollinators
Because some flowers only open at night, they depend on nocturnal pollinators such as bats and moths to thrive. This is most critical in tropical and desert climates. According to the U.S. Forest Service, there are more than 300 species of fruit that depend on bats for pollination, including bananas and mangoes.
Some Bats Are Seed Dispersers
Fruit eating bats are vital to the survival of many of the species of fruit they consume. These fruits are eaten in their entirety by the bats, where the seeds enter their digestive system and are later expelled. The now fertilized fruit seed is deposited somewhere a distance away from the parent tree, where it can sprout and grow. This process ensures the spreading and continuation of these fruit species.
Bat Houses Help with Bat Conservation
You can help conserve these animals that are so crucial to our ecosystems by installing bat houses on your property. Whether you purchase a ready-made bat house or make your own however, care must be taken to mount it correctly and in the right location. Once bats have found and begun to occupy the house, it is important to inspect if often. Remove any wasp or mud dauber nests, and repair any leaks with caulking. Be sure to do your inspections and make any necessary repairs when the bats are not occupying the house.