Bat Conservation Is Vital to Human Survival

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.

bat conservation

An adult Southern Bent-wing bat hangs out with a bunch of bat pups in a cave. These bats are insectivores from Australia and are critically endangered. Image credit: Steve Bourne

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.Β  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.

bat conservation

These adorable baby bats were rescued from a building that was being demolished. Here, they’re being kept warm in a blanket. Image credit: Keren Lassry

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 conservation

This species of bat is named Platyrrhinus infuscus, or the Buffy Broad-nosed bat. They are fruit-eating bats from South America that help disperse the seeds of fruit trees. Image credit: Guilherme Garbino

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.

19 Comments

  1. Have bats that swirl over my Missouri backyard in the evenings – dropping suddenly for what I like to think are mosquitoes! Love watching them.

    • I bet they are mosquitoes, Cindy. I love watching bats, too. I’ve never been to the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, but it’s on my list.

  2. I know in my head that bats are good for us, since they eat mosquitoes and other bugs. But I still can’t get over the fact that they look creepy πŸ˜‰

    • I know. But the purpose of writing the article wasn’t to make bats seem warm and fuzzy. It was to help spread the word that bats are very important to our ecosystems and the prevention of mosquito-borne illnesses. That’s why bat conservation is so important.

  3. I am not sure if we have any bats in our area. If we do, I haven’t seen them. Mosquitos love me so I welcome bats. Yes, some get infected with rabies but so do other creatures. You just have to stay away and not handle bats during the day.

    • Exactly! Just leave them alone and let them do their jobs. But if you do see one acting strangely during the day, call the authorities immediately.

  4. We just went to a bat cave and did a tour. Such a magical sight to see them venture off at dusk. They are fascinating creatures.

  5. Last summer we got to see the huge bay colony in downtown Austin, TX fly out for the night to eat all the bugs. Yay no mosquitoes!! It was amazing to see.

    • I’m jealous, Stephanie! I have not gotten to see the bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge yet, but it’s very high on my list!

  6. It’s odd when so much misplaced fear is associated with bats when they’re actually helpful creatures! When we sit outside some evenings, we see bats swooping through the air after flying insects. Quite happy to have bats around!

    • I love to watch bats hunting. Each time they get one seems like a personal victory and reminds me of the importance of bat conservation.

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