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Monday, July 26, 2010

Bats - where are they? - by Bruce

For as many years as we have lived here we have had a family of bats. They have kept our mosquito population in check. Three years ago we had at least 6 bats and the following year only about 3-4 bats. I built a bat house off plans that I downloaded from a web site that is devoted to preserving bats. Most folks believe that bats are disease carriers and while they can be, they also keep the insect population in balance. The benefits of having bats far exceeds the few drawbacks they present. They are very beneficial to have around if you can attract them. Every once in a great while we would have one fall down the chimney and get trapped in the wood stove. I'd get a towel and catch them in it and redeposit them outdoors.

Bats have a tough life and ours migrate each year to what we think is New Mexico. They particularly like mines/caves and many of the old mines have been sealed off for safety reasons. Here in Colorado when they seal off mines they put bars across the entrance so bats can still use the mine as home. Some places they simply collapse the entrance and seal in the bats to a sure death.
Then there is the newly discovered disease called White Nose Syndrome. It has effected 9 different species of bats, Our family of bats just happens belong to one of those species. This disease has killed over a million bats since 2007. I don't know who goes around counting dead bats but someone sure does. Probably one of those jobs no one wants but someone has to do it. We fear our family of bats has become victim of one of these two bat killers. They have not appeared this year as they usually do.

White Nose Syndrome causes emaciation that robs the bat of fat that is needed to survive the winter and hibernation. Bats are said to eat 1 1/2 times of their body weight in mosquitoes a night. They are beneficial in eating harmful or annoying insects. The symbiotic relationship between bats and farmers is now at great risk. Their loss will put crop production in jeopardy and chemicals will have to be employed to a greater extent than they already are. Bats are beneficial and we actually miss our bat family that has lived at our house for many years up until this year. Hopefully we will be able to attract more but with all they have to face just to survive, it is doubtful.

It seems that we are constantly trying to improve on mother nature and when we do we mess things up worse than if we had left them alone to balance themselves. One day I fear we will wake up and be on the extinction list ourselves.


Raylene said...

'camping one night in a popup tent trailer....woke up hearing what finally decided was something circling around the space and then it stopped--and a scratching/crawling sound on the canvas-----BAT! Trapped in a towel and assisted back outside!

Several of the docs at work are amazed/horrified at my tails of "wild animals". My Dad raised me to respect and enjoy all kinds of life. Nature is such a gift to enjoy. I can not fathom how someone could be as afraid of a black snake---it is only a snake. There are pedophiles and murders in every neighborhood and they fear snakes?!!! But this comes from a wild woman who relocates field mice!!

Lois said...

Interesting, Bruce. Now I wonder what causes white nose syndrome; I've read about it but never read what caused it to
suddenly appear and kill the bats.

Something else interesting (at least I think): A few years back around Halloween we were on the porch waiting for the
next trick or treaters to come when I decided to water a hanging basket. It was already dark, of course. Suddenly something flew into my forehead; we couldn't find anything on the porch so just decided to disregard it. Later, after I came inside I discovered
that whatever it was had broken the skin and there was blood trickling down the bridge of my nose. Oh well, just decided it was
nothing. About 10 days later I was talking to my sister-in-law in Wisconsin and she was telling me news from there about a girl who was bitten by a bat and did nothing about it and nearly died. It prompted Bill and I to wonder if that could have been what "hit" my forehead.
To make a long story short, the doctor contacted the state health dept. and they decided it most assuredly was a bat bite, we couldn't take a chance even tho' it had been 11 days prior. I had to undergo the shots as a precaution. No fun. So be careful!

Carol said...

Lois, I remember when that happened as you wrote us about it. Stay inside at night!!