Category Archives: Bats

Is there a way to create bat sight seeing in Charlottesvile? Following suit of Austin, TX

In downtown Austin, Texas the Congress Avenue has become known for bat flights where each evening from spring through fall, Mexican free-tailed bats can be spotted emerging at sunset. Austin has taken the idea of bats as being foreign creatures and created an entertainment and destination event.  The Lady Bird Lake made renovations to make home for the bats in Austin under the bridge. People travel to come see the bats as people bring blankets and enjoy the viewing experience fun for all ages.

The annual Bat Fest in August marks the celebration of the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from under the bridge at dusk, live music, arts and crafts, food vendors, and bat related activities. By calling attention to the species they no longer become a nuisance in the city but a must see attraction.

Can Charlottesville use Austin as an example to create a festival for relaying information about the bats in the area? The festival in Austin brings attention to the importance of bats as it also brings the community together. Events like this help connect us to species such as bats that often are misconceptualized. Bats are one of the most threatened mammals on earth as many of the species are threatened with extinction it is important to highlight their contributions to the environment.  Through the festival, Charlottesville can highlight the 17 bat species in Virginia, the dangers that bats are currently facing, and how citizens can become involved with bat awareness and safety efforts.

Back in 2002 there was a batch watch at Beaver Creek Park in Ivy lead by a biology professor at the University of Virginia. People attended to watch the bat sightings using a bat detector with the reasoning being that bats have a low regard and needed to be drawn attention to the positives they bring to the community. The idea of the festival held in Charlottesville is to bring recognition to the bat species in the area so that residents gain appreciation. By hosting an event with live music, food, and signs displaying information on the bat species that migrate through the area Charlottesville residents and university students can come together to appreciate bats and their contributions to the community.


“Congress Avenue Bridge.” Congress Avenue Bridge. Ed. Andrew Walker. Bat Conservation International, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Germanotta, Tony. “Inside UVA.” Bats Sing to University Researcher. Inside UVA Online, 2002. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Post by Caroline Mann


Bats Houses

When most people think of bats they don’t picture them as being very important, however bats are extremely important to the environment.  They eat thousands of insects, which ultimately lead to less pests getting to crops and less pesticides used in the farming of these crops.  Also, bat houses give bats a place to live close to your garden, while simultaneously keeping them out of your house.  Bat habitats are decreasing rapidly and bat houses are a safe and secure way to house these bats during the day and allow them to raise their young.

To build a bat house you must first think of a couple topics, such as what type of bats are in the area and the size of these bats, after that you can determine the size of the bat house you want to build and then go for it!  Or if you would like to purchase a bat house there are countless websites where you can find pre-made ones that would fit perfectly in your yard.

Bat houses range in size, from a single chamber to a four chamber one.  They can either be mounted on a building or put up on a post.  In order to get the highest number of bats to come to your bat house use these suggestions.  Since summer in Charlottesville is between 85-95 degrees, you should use a dark or medium shade of paint to attract the most bats. It also needs to be in areas that receive direct sunlight for 6-8 hours of the daytime, over 10 feet above the ground, near water and around a variety of agriculture.

According to the wildlife, there are 8 different types of bats that could be living in Charlottesville, the first four bats are all cave dwelling bats, meaning they hibernate in caves, and tree bats that hibernate in leaf clusters, logs, hollow trees or sometimes buildings.  These eight different types of bats are all ones you may find in your bat house!

Cave bats:

The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus lucifugus)



Northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis septentrionalis)

Eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus subflavus)



Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus fuscus)

Tree bats:
Silver haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)



Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis borealis)

Hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus cinereus)
Evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis humeralis)
Examples of bat houses:

9 10 11
Post by Matthew Dowling



Home Is Where the Bats Are: Threats to Bats in Charlottesville

The images that tend to come to mind when we hear the word bat are often not pleasant. We associate bats with either the spookiness of Halloween and blood-sucking vampires, or the pests that infest and inhabit the darkest corners of our homes. While it’s true that it is probably cleaner to keep bats out of our attics, bats are actually extremely beneficial to our local and global ecosystems, as many of the blog posts below attest. In reality, humans pose a much larger threat to the health and well-being of bats, than bats pose to that of humans.

Most major threats to bat proliferation come from the careless practices of people. Of the 17 bat species in Virginia, 3 are federally endangered. These Virginia bats inhabit either caves or hollowed, decaying trees. Due to deforestation and subsequent development, thousands of bats are finding themselves displaced from their homes and searching for makeshift, hibernation friendly environments, often taking the form of attics and chimneys. When discovered, people respond with panic and quickly call for exterminators to remove the pests. The negative human portrayal of bats leads to thousands of unnecessary deaths every year. (There have even been incidents of arson in caves, purposefully obliterating bat habitats.) Fortunately the Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Service now performs bat exclusions to safely remove bats and release them into wildlife habitats.

Climate change also puts bats in serious danger. Bats succumb easily to the heat stress associated with global warming. Additionally, as the patterns of seasons begin to alter, bats could become out of sync with the flowering of their food sources. Even our attempts to combat climate change with wind turbines has been destructive to bats (and birds) as many stand as obstacles along their migration pathways, confusing and/or killing them before they reach their destination. It’s time to start incorporating the lives on which our own survival depends into the growth and development plans of our cities! Otherwise, soon it will be the lack of bats, rather than their presence, that poses the problem!


Post by Camille Knable



“Threats to Bats.”  Defenders of Wildlife. (2015) Retrieved March 26, 2015, from

“Bats in Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.” Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services. (September 17, 2010) Retrieved March 26, 2015, from



Bats as a contributor to biodiversity and ecosystems

It is easy to neglect the importance of bats as a contributor to ecosystems because of the nasty background they have. They are related to vampires, rabies, and are thought to be dirty vermin because of their appearance. However, bats play a vital role in various ecosystems without these mammals many ecosystems would be adversely affected. If one looks past the physical appearance of a bat their various jobs can be noted because they are considered to be a keynote species in tropical ecosystems. A keynote species means that if the species was to suddenly disappear then the rest of the food web would collapse. This is because bats are an important pollinator. It is surprising to accept that bats are pollinators because they are not insects and have a large range in size. However, they pollinate many fruits and other vital plants in the tropics. As well their guano (bat poop) is a fertilizer for the plants so they indirectly helps with the growth and production of many plant species.

Bats are important for the North American region because they are able to cross-pollinate flowering plants and disperse seeds of various vegetation. However, their most notable contribution in North America, even here in Charlottesville, is their ability to control pests. Even though homeowners see bats as a nuisance they vastly decrease the amount of mosquitos in our area.  Since bats are nocturnal it is hard to see them at work but the bats in Virginia have the ability to consumer 3,000 mosquitos in one night! A bats diet is not limited to mosquitos. They eat many other insects that can consume and damage crops.  In this way bats save farmers countless dollars that would be spent on pesticides.

The Virginia Wildlife website accounts for three types of bats found in Charlottesville area. The types of bats are the silver haired bat, eastern red bat, and the evening bat. These bats contribute to the biodiversity of the UVA area and should be protected to help control the insect population and help pollinate the wildflowers found in UVA. Now that you know a little more about how bats help habitats you should think twice before squirming if you see them around at night!

Post by Mercedes Talvitie


Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Web. 20 March 2015

“Bats are Important” Bat Conservation International. Web. 20 March 2015      <>


There are more than 1,000 bat species worldwide and Virginia holds about 17 of them. 3 of them are considered federally endangered. However, people are more likely to see three of the non-protected species which are the Little Brown Bat (Myotis Lucifugus), the Big Brown Bat (Epitesicus Fuscus), and the Evening Bat (Nycticeius Humeralis). Bats have a profound effect on the environment as they act as pollinators as well as insect control when they hunt at night. In Virginia, the bats here primarily eat mosquitoes and other small insects and they can eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night.

Trees as well as commercial/residential areas can be equally desirable for a bat to live in as they do not need much space to claim as their dwelling. Since bats are social creatures, they will colonize in these areas and can amount to hundreds. They have rather poor eyesight and use echo location to find their way around as well as using it to find food. Unfortunately, more and more bats have been recently being killed by wind turbines. They actively approach the turbines thinking that they are trees that could provide them with shelter and food when the blades were either slow or stationary. Strong gusts of wind spin the faster causing a large number of bat deaths. Researches say that bats may not have the cognitive capacity to discern the wind turbine from a tree.  Approximately over 600,000 bat deaths have been estimated due to wind turbines.

Photo from:

Scientists speculated that one possible solution could be to alter the appearance of the wind turbines. They deduced that the bats saw the base pole of the turbine as a tree trunk while the blades resembled branches. Adding lights to these turbines would possibly lessen the bats to mistaken them as trees. Wind farm operators could also be asked to operate only when high winds were present. This would prevent strong gusts of wind to make the blades reach lethal speeds during low wind downtime.

Post by Christopher Lee


Gosden, E. (2014, September 14). Bats lured to deaths at wind farms ‘because they think turbines are        trees’. Retrieved March 5, 2015, from         wind-farms-because-they-think-turbines-are-trees.html

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. (n.d.). Retrieved March 5, 2015, from   

Cheers to Bats!

Do you love eating mangoes, peaches, dates, cashews, or bananas? Do you like drinking Margaritas? Do you prefer eating organic food? If so, you should thank bats. Many of our most important and delicious foods and drinks come from bat-dependent plants. Approximately 20 percent of fruit sold comes from trees or shrubs that rely on bats in the wild (Dr. Tuttle, 2011). These creatures help us maintain a biodiverse ecosystem by pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds in rainforests and deserts. The seeds of more than 110 plant species are dispersed and pollinated by bats, producing important food and drinks for us, including 72 plant species that humans use to produce medicine. In addition, 66 plant species produce timber, 29 are used to fabricate fiber and cordage, 25 are needed to create dyes, 19 are used to make tannins, and 22 are rendered into animal feed (Bureau of Land Management). Therefore, bats are critical in supporting the world’s ecosystem, maintaining a healthy environment, and contributing to the success of human economies.

Bats have helped foster human economies around the world. Even in commercial orchards many fruit trees rely on bat pollinators. For example, durian fruit, the king of Asian fruits, would not have a market worth a billion dollars annually if the population of its bat pollinators decreased, thereby causing a decline in the health of the fruit’s population.  In addition to its economic contribution, bats are also essential to the production of other fruit trees that are important to the diet of people in specific cultures. In East Africa, the fruit from the Baobab Tree, a plant recognized as the African Tree of Life due to the variety of wildlife that depend of it for food and shelter, contains six times as much vitamin C as oranges, twice as much calcium as milk, and is rich in other vitamins and antioxidants (Dr. Tuttle, 2011). The nutritional content of this tree has the potential to turn into a billion dollar yearly crop production market. Lastly, with the help of these creatures, people can produce tequila liquor from the saguaro and organ pipe cactus found from the southwestern United States to southern Peru. Those who are fans of Margaritas should cheers to bats next time they have the chance.

In addition to bat’s contribution towards enhancing biodiversity, bats also help maintain our environment’s health by providing ecosystem services known as “biological control”. Bats are predators of many natural pests, such as the damaging corn earworm and armyworm moths that destroy crop fields. In San Antonio, Texas, a colony of 20 million free-tailed bats can consume 200 tons of insects nightly, which prevents almost a trillion eggs from being laid each night. As a result, cotton growers are able to save close to a million dollars annually from this reduction in spend on pesticides (Dr. Tuttle, 2011). Bats are the most effective form of natural pest control, saving both agricultural production and money from crop losses and pesticides. Aside from this cost reduction, using fewer pesticides in crops improves the health and quality of the production, allowing for the production of organic food. Furthermore, decreasing the use of pesticides reduces chemical pollution in our environment that harms other living organisms.

Restoring bat populations can solve many economic, environmental, and health issues. The value of these creatures has been erroneously depreciated due to sensational media stories and stereotypes about correlating bats with vampires and diseases. This amazing animal is among our planet’s least understood or appreciated, and is rapidly becoming endangered. Bats are the heroes behind a veil of misconception and awareness must be raised in order to conserve these valuable mammals.

A global campaign has taken the initiative to promote conservation, research and education by inaugurating The Year of the Bat. Participate and learn more about the conservation of the world’s only flying mammal by testing your knowledge in the following bat quiz:


Bat Conservation Publisher. “get involved.” year of the bat 2011-2012.

Bat Conservation Publisher. “Focus: Bats and Ecosystem Services.” bats and biodiversity.

Buddenhagen, Ivan W. 2008. “Bats and Disappearing Wild Bananas”. BATS Magazine.

Turttle, Dr. Merlin D. 2011. “Bats as Invaluable Allies.” .

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. “Bats: Essential to Healthy Ecosystems.” Cave Ecosystems: Bats and Caves. 

Post by Michelle S. Chen, Fourth-Year, Architecture

Bats: Myths vs. Facts – Stereotypes of the Flying Mice

Bats are one of the most interesting animals you learn about as a child. They sleep during the day, and are active at night. They are the only mammals that capable of sustained flight, because of their webbed wings. Also some consider them to have the appearance of a flying rodent. Needless to say they are interesting creatures with a peculiar look.  Due to the fact that they are mysterious, myths and folklores have developed around bats. Most of these myths display bats in a negative and harmful light, while some have inspired fictional superheroes like the popular figure Batman. Regardless they are a part of popular culture, and because of this it is important we distinguish which is fact and which is fallacy surrounding these fascinating mammals.

Question #1- Are Bats Blind?

If you answered True, unfortunately you were wrong. Bats can see very well, some bats can see up to 20 times better than us. Mega Chiroptera bats have very large eyes that enable them to see fruits and flowers in the dark. It is true however that many bats use echolocation as their choice of finding prey and navigating in the dark. Echolocation is the use of sound waves and echoes to determine where objects are in space. Bats have adapted large ears, which help them in this process.

Question #2- Do Vampire Bats really exist?

This one is actually true. There are 3 species out of the thousands that do have a blood diet. These species weigh less than 50 grams and live in Central and South America, and they do not suck blood, instead they make a small incision with their razor sharp teeth on a sleeping animal and then lap up the blood. The animal usually doesn’t even wake up or feel the bite.

Question #3- Are all bats dirty and carry rabies?

The answer to this one is definitely No. Bats are generally very clean animals. They groom themselves daily along with inverting or hanging right side up to avoid soiling on themselves. Even though they are able to contract rabies, less than half of 1% of all species actually has rabies. In fact, you are more likely to contract rabies from an unvaccinated dog or cat.

Misconceptions about bats often lead to fear or discomfort around them. Myths can be detrimental to their reputation, and even the true facts can be misleading. Bats are extremely beneficial to the environment all around the world. They perform vital ecological roles by pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds. Bats also are important, because they consume insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides.


Post by Sam Odi, Second-Year, Economics

Bat House

People may wonder why are bat houses important?

Here are the main reasons. Bats will eat thousands of insects. One bat can eat thousands on insects in one night. Not many insects leads to less pesticides, which is good for the environment. By providing them a home, they will stay out of our homes. It provides bats with a secure home, which would help with the population decrease.

Here are the steps to building a bat house:

  1. Figure out what types of bats are around your area
  2. Pick the size of the house
  3. Decide on installation method
  4. BUILD!
  5. Study some guidelines for locations and the install

What types of bats are around Charlottesville?

According to wildlife information, there are three species of bat in this area. They are silver haired bat, eastern red bat, and evening bat:

Silver haired bat: medium-sized

  • About 3 ¾ to 4 5/8 inches long
  • Brownish-black silver topped fur


Eastern Red Bat: medium-sized

  • About 3 ½ to 4 ¾ inches long
  • Bright red to rusty red with long silky fur


Evening Bat: small sized

  • About 75-105 mm long
  • Brown with short, sparse, dull brown fur


Bat houses range in size.

There are single chamber and four-chamber nurseries.


Installation Methods

Bat houses have two ways of installation. They can be mounted to the building or put on posts. The posts can be either wooden or steel. Single chamber houses do not work well on posts. Multi-chamber works better because they are more thermally stable.

BUILD Phase:

Our bat group decided to build our own bat house.

The steps include:

  1. Measure and cut plywood into 3 pieces with the following dimensions: 26 ½” x 24”     16 ½” x 24”     5” x 24”


2. Cut grooves on the landing area, 1/32” to 1/16” deep


3. Apply two coats of water-based stain




4. Attach furring strips to the back
5. Attach Roof
6. Paint: The color for the bat house depends on the location. Virginia is in an area with temperatures around 85 to 95 degrees, so dark or medium shade of paint is the best choice.



When installing bat houses here are some guidelines to pick the right location:

  • sunny location on the East or the South side
  • needs at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight
  • should not be lit by bright lights, such as lights from utility poles
  • better if located along forest or water edges
  • the best place is in areas where there is a diverse habitat abundant with mixture of varied agriculture used and natural vegetation.
  • bat house should be at least 10 feet above the ground
  • it is recommended to test the bat house before putting up more than 3 houses


We are thinking of installing the bat house in the vicinity of the President’s House and Campbell Hall (Architecture School). Near the President’s House there are many tall trees and diversity of ecosystem.



Another possibility is putting the bat house in the forest of trees beside Campbell Hall or in the forest of trees along the way up the hill to the side of Campbell Hall.




Photo Credits

Post by Arisa Chentaphun, Fourth-Year, Architecture

Identifying Bat-Friendly Locations on the Grounds Based on Foraging properties

Spring is finally here and hopefully, we will soon be seeing more bats around Grounds. In order to identify where we can find bats, the challenge is to identify where bats are most likely to be found on Grounds. It’s most likely that we have to look for them in the locations that contain natural elements that support bats. As close as we could get is to learn more about specific features of urban landscape for bats, and go from there. By being able to identify these bat-friendly landscapes, we can further seek to protect, maintain and enhance these landscapes, which are likely to possess rich ecological value. The biodiverse multi-functional green infrastructure that attracts bats will also support other wildlife and provide a wide range of ecosystem services.

Research on urban landscape for bats gives us a good starting point for looking at specific locations on Grounds. According to the book, Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity by Bat Conservation Trust in the UK, landscapes can be divided into three major themes based on three main activities that bats do. The book describes bats as “long-lived, social animals that use the landscape intensively for foraging, roosting and commuting”(Gunnell & Williams 2012).

In this blog, we will focus on the aspects of landscapes that provide hunting grounds or foraging habitats. Foraging is an important aspect when considering a particular landscape. Because bats feed on insects, which in turn are supported by vegetation, the landscapes that are rich in native vegetation are likely to support higher diversity of bats and wildlife (Gunnell & Williams 2012).

After surveying around the Grounds to assess certain elements based upon the guidelines in the book, Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity by Gunnell and Dr. Williams, we came up with a set of locations that might serve as the sites for further studies about bats on the Grounds. The locations are arranged based upon specific landscape elements they exhibits as following:


The quiet places such as the area around the Pavillion and gardens along the serpentine walls have a wide range of trees, flowers and plants. These mixtures of natural elements attract a diversity of insects, the food resource that in turn sustains bats.

Dry stone walls

The serpentine walls surrounding the UVa. Pavillion can create valuable habitats and micro-climates that benefit bats during the summer. Lichens, mosses and other plants are likely to be found along the serpentine walls where they provide a shelter area for insects.


Some small woodlands with mature trees can be found around the Grounds. These places can also provide hunting ground for bats.

Open habitats

The recreational areas and grass field beside Perry-Fishburne Tennis Courts (located in the area known as the Dell) can be considered as a small open habitat that has potential to support bats. The place has a range of trees and shrubs and flowers along a creek that attracts insects.


Freshwater is an important resource for bats as they need to drink from open water. In addition, some species also forage on emerging insects. The rain garden in the Dell area (near Lambeth House) and the Meadow Creek, which brings water from the top of Observatory Hill to the rain garden provides a perfect wetland. There are also native grasses and wildflowers along the creek.

In our next post, we will discuss the way that we are planning to accommodate bats around Grounds.

Works cited:

Gunnell, K., Grant, G. and Williams, C. 2012.

Landscape and urban design for bats and biodiversity. Bat Conservation Trust

Post by Peeratham Techapalokul, Fourth-Year, Interdisciplinary Major in Computer Science

East Coast Bats Migration and White Nose Syndrome

On the east coast, there are two main species of bats: the little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) and the big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). These two species of bats can either migrate or hibernate during colder seasons and live basically anywhere they can dwell like caves, trees, and man-made structures. The little browns and big browns do not have an area specific location, however, these bats usually tend to stick around their birthplaces and their usual hibernation sites. As to how they know where these specific locations are still continue to be a mystery. To get around, these bats use their high frequency sounds to travel and sense their location since they cannot detect color due to their nocturnal habits.

However, since 2006, the brown bats have been dying off by the millions from a disease called the white nose syndrome (WNS). Currently, WNS has killed over 5.7 million bats in the United States. White Nose syndrome is a white fungus formerly known as Geomyces sp., and is now known as Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd., and grows on the noses and hairless parts of the bats. This fungus is particularly suited for colder weather, which forces the bats to come out of hibernation and into the wild. Because the bats are about and flying around during the winter/colder weathers, the bats become sick and eventually die due to this devastating habit. It was first spotted in the New York region and has started to migrate down south and around the original location.

Photo from: Bat Conservation International.
Photo from: Bat Conservation International.

Efforts to stop this disease

As the bat group, we are hoping to house bats and study them in our very own bat house. Currently there are no signs of the white nose syndrome in Charlottesville but we can learn more about the disease in our locations by using the bat house.  Constructing bat houses supports the effort to control the disease by minimizing the disturbance to our homes and it takes cares of the bats by providing them with a place to live in. Another way to stop the spread of the disease is to avoid the hibernating bats during the winter in their natural habitat. If you want to learn more about the white nose syndrome or bat conservation in general, visit: or


“Bats – Bat Removal, Exclusion and Guano Clean up in Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia.” Bats – Bat Removal, Exclusion and Guano Clean up in Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

“The Facts About Bats in New Jersey.” (from Rutgers NJAES). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

“Hinterland Who’s Who – Bats.” Hinterland Who’s Who – Bats. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

“Over 5.7 Million Bats Have Died.” Bat Conservation International, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

“White-Nose Syndrome.” WNS Information Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Post by Joshua Aries Cruz