While a majority of bats are insectivores, other species of bats eat fruit, nectar, and even other mammals. Fruit-eating bats are essentially for spreading seeds in tropical environments. Similarly, nectar-eating bats serve as pollinators for over 300 species of fruit; however, most flower visiting bats live in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, so it is unlikely to see a nectar-eating bat in Charlottesville (Bat Conservation). A study of the diets of the seven most common bats in the Central Appalachian Mountains showed that most bats in this area prefer to eat insects. While each specie ate a different percentage of each type of insect, the data in the study demonstrates that bats serve as an important control on insect population in our ecosystem since a single bat can eat a 1000 mosquitos an hour (Carter et al.). Overall, bat’s and their eating habits provide important ecological services. As a result, bat conservation is important for the continued health of our environment.
Around Charlottesville, bats have plenty of food sources due to the billions of insects; however, some species such as the Virginia Big-Eared Bat are endangered. One solution to help these endangered species is bat houses. These artificial roosts serve as effective alternatives for bats who have lost their natural habitat or prefer some aspect of the roost (Bat Conservation). The roosts vary from a simple wooden bat house, similar to a bird house, to a specially designed bat condo. In a study conducted in California, bat houses were shown to attract bat populations to farms, which can help with pest control and reduce the need for pesticide, which saves both money and the environment (Long et al.).
Overall, bat populations in this area are doing relatively well compared to some species around the globe; however, both farmers and some endangered species can benefit from the introduction of bat houses to the area.
Post by Derek Rush
“Bat Conservation International.” Bat Pollination. Bat Conservation International, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
“Bat Pollination.” United States Department Of Agriculture. USDA Forest Service, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Carter, Timothy C., Michael A. Menzel, Sheldon F. Owen, John W. Edwards, Jennifer M. Menzel, and W. Mark Ford. “Food Habits of Seven Species of Bats in the Allegheny Plateau and Ridge and Valley of West Virginia.” Northeastern Naturalist 10.1 (2003): 83. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Long, Rachael F., W. Mark Kiser, and Selena B. Kiser. “Well-placed Bat Houses Can Attract Bats to Central Valley Farms.” California Agriculture 60.2 (2006): 91-94. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.