Conserve Wildlife Blog

Fact or Myth? The Ecological Importance of Bats

November 1st, 2022

by Meaghan Lyon, Wildlife Biologist

It’s that time of year again, the days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and creatures of the night are lurking behind shadowy corners. As Halloween approaches one animal comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind – bats.

Bats have been misunderstood by humans for many years and are still among the most persecuted animals on earth. In many parts of the world, bats are killed due to fear or harmful myths that make them seem scary or even dangerous. However, the fact is that bats are one of the most beneficial animals to humans.

Photo Caption: Bats are in the order Chiroptera, meaning “Hand-wing”. This skeleton shows how the wing of bats has a very similar structure to that of the human hand.

In New Jersey, all of our 9 bat species are insectivores. They can eat thousands of insects in one night, protecting our crops and forests from insect destruction. The Little brown bat has been reported to eat as much as 3 thousand bugs in one night during the peak season. In other regions of the world bats pollinate many important foods that we love, like chocolate and bananas! A study published in Science magazine estimates that bats’ insect-eating services may be worth as much as $53 billion to US agriculture alone.

There are over 1,200 bat species worldwide, however, due to many threats, we have lost a significant number of bats and many species are on the verge of extinction. The continued decline of bat populations could have drastic effects, including increasing the demand for chemical pesticides. This is why it is important that we continue our efforts to conserve out native bat species.

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