October is bat appreciation month, so we decided we should round up some information on this critter from the good that honors them to the bad and the ugly. Often bats gained a bad reputation due to their portrayal in the media and movies as blood-sucking, rabid creatures. As pest control agents, our job is to understand the role each creature plays in the ecosystem, and after gaining this knowledge we realize there are always both positive and negatives to each critter we deal with on a daily basis. Below is a quick run down on the good, bad, and the ugly of bats!
- Bats are absolutely critical to our ecosystem. They are excellent at exterminating pests, such as the mosquitoes that carry dangerous diseases, and other insects that destroy crops. A single Indiana Brown Bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitos in one hour!
- Just like bees, bats pollinate fruit. Bats spread seeds through a process called seed dispersal.
- Bats reduce the need for pesticides on farms and help in reducing the amount used. The New York Times recently estimated that throughout the U.S. bats save somewhere between $3.7 and 54 billion in services on crops every year.
- Bats may even help produce medicine! Scientists have extracted a compound from Vampire bat saliva and turned it into a medicine called Draculin.
The bad and the ugly…
- Bats are dangerous to handle, particularly if you find one in your home. Bats carry disease so be sure to call in a professional if you suspect or notices signs of bats. These mammals will usually be found dwelling in the attic or crawl spaces of your home.
- Rabies is the most well-known disease associated with bats. There are other severely fatal diseases liked to bats as well, including Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), Hendra virus, and Histoplasmosis.
- A family of bats in your home may introduce bat mites and bat bugs into your home as well.
- Bat droppings or feces, called “guano”, may spread the disease Histoplasmosis, a lung infection caught by inhaling the spores of a fungus found in guano.
- Guano may also contaminate soil and cause infectious spores to be released when the soil is disturbed.
While some people do try to attract bats to their properties with bat houses and other methods as an attempt to reduce mosquito populations, this can be risky as they may find your home attractive to set up nest or dwellings. Take precautions immediately if you notice signs of bats near or inside of your home, and get tested immediately if a bite occurs. Remember, bats are protected mammals in most states, so it is necessary to contact a pest control professional or local wildlife service before taking action to remove bats from the home. Call 877-DEAD-BUG for all of your pest control and wildlife control needs!