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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The benefits of bats

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I may not be a big fan of them, but it was very interesting and entertaining to look up into the sky Saturday night and watch two bats fly above my pond.

Luckily, these bats weren't close by or building a nest on my porch.

Instead, they were probably controlling the insect population.

Bats are mammals that belong to the order Chiroptera (meaning "hand-wing").

They are the only mammal that is capable of true flight.

There are 12 different species of bats found in Indiana.

Homeowners most frequently come in contact with the big brown bat or the little brown myotis bat.

The big brown bat is about 4-inches long with a wing span between 12-14 inches.

Their body and wings are usually dark brown and they have black ears.

In comparison, the little brown bat is about 3-inches long and only weighs one-fourth of an ounce.

They are usually chocolate brown.

Many homeowners would consider bats a big nuisance.

I have to admit, when they tried making their home on my porch, I considered them one, too.

However, bats actually do a lot of good because they consume literally tons of insects each year.

Therefore, they are one of the best natural predators for controlling insects.

For example, one little brown bat may eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour.

There is another benefit associated with bats within the agricultural world.

In some locations throughout the world, bats help pollinate and dispense seeds for tropical plants.

Specifically, they help with the pollination of avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes and cashews.

Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind.

They do, however, navigate and detect food using echolocation.

Echolocation is similar to the common sonar.

It is the process of having a sound emitted by the bat that bounces off insects or objects and returns to the bat's ear, helping it locate items.

This process allows bats to catch insects in flight.

The high-frequency sounds emitted by bats for echolocation are inaudible to humans.

However, bats do produce some sounds which can be heard by humans.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County, or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Sept. 26 -- Clay County Extension Board Meeting, Clay County Extension Office,

* Sept. 27 -- Owen County Extension Board Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, and

* Oct. 4-6 -- State Master Gardener Conference, Hamilton County Fairgrounds. For more information, log on to

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