Bat houses provide roosting and maternity sites in South Jersey
by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager
New Jersey’s bats got some new maternity and roosting sites near Mt. Holly and the Rancocas Creek late last year. A Boy Scout, Nicolas Fuzer, chose to construct and install bat houses for his Eagle Scout Project after learning more about bats and the perils they face including White-nose syndrome. He hopes that by building and installing these houses NJ’s bats will not have a problem finding adequate areas to roost and reproduce.
Amazingly enough, Nicolas completed the construction of a total of 60 bat houses with the help of his fellow Scouts. He was planning on installing all of the bat houses, some with our help. But after realizing the daunting task of finding suitable habitat and installing all 60 of the bat houses, he decided to donate some to CWF. He installed 20 of houses in suitable habitat near the Rancocas Creek.
The donated bat houses will be installed in areas where we would like to enhance roosting habitat or maternity sites. There is a possibility for us to give away some bat houses to homeowners who 1) Have suitable habitat, i.e. a structure/building that has south/southwest exposure with full sun and at least a 15ft. drop and 2) would participate in our Summer Bat Count where volunteers count bats as they emerge from their roost sites at dusk. If you’re interested in obtaining a bat house from CWF, please contact me for more information.
Thank you Nicolas for all of your hard work and generous donation!!
Benefits of Bats
Bats have a reputation as being spooky or even dangerous, but they are actually some of the most beneficial animals to people. All of New Jersey’s bats are insectivores. They feed on night-flying insects, including the pesty mosquitoes. A single little brown bat can eat 3,000 mosquito-sized insects a night, and a colony of 150 big brown bats can eat enough cucumber beetles to save farmers almost a billion dollars annually in crop damages and pesticide costs. Without bats, we would be more dependent on toxic chemicals to control unwanted insects. Some garden pests even detect the sounds that bats make while feeding and will avoid areas where bats are present. In turn, guano (bat droppings) makes for a terrific garden fertilizer!
In other areas of the world, bats play a major role in pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds for plants such as bananas, avocados, cashews, and mangoes. By dispersing a wide variety of plant seeds over open areas, bats also help to restore the tropical rainforests following logging, fire, and other disturbances.
Many scientific advancements are owed to bats as well: navigational aids for the blind, blood-clot medication, artificial insemination techniques, low-temperature surgery on people, and military sonar have all been inspired by our night-flying friends.