Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bats With Terry!

This evening we drove over to Crawford to view bats with Terry Lobdell. Terry is a bat enthusiast who designs and builds bat houses. With him, we mainly talked about Little Brown Bats and Big Brown Bats. Big Brown Bats weigh about twice as much as little brown bats; also, Big Brown Bats prefer a slightly larger crevice to roost in (7/8'') than Little Brown Bats (3/4"). Terry has experimented with different designs and materials for bat boxes, including one with a glass viewing panel. He has built approximately 300 boxes all over the U.S. 

The Little Brown Bats have been significantly impacted by the white-nose fungus. The white-nose fungus grows on and irritates the bats skin, which causes them to wake up during their hibernation in the winter. This causes them to use more energy, but their is no food available to the bats during the winter. Therefore, the bats either starve to death, or freeze to death in an attempt to find food. This fungus has killed 99% of the Little Brown Population in north western Pennsylvania. As of now, the Big Brown Bats have not been affected by the fungus. This is because they prefer to roost in dryer areas, and the fungus cannot grow as easily in these places. The Little Brown Bats that do remain have a bacteria on their skin that inhibits the growth of the fungus. We were able to see one Big Brown Bat and about 30 Little Brown Bats in the boxes. The Little Brown Bats were in fact a group of mothers living together with their pups.

Losing bats can have a significant influence on the number of pests that eat crops. In one case, an organic pecan farmer was losing about a third of his crop to a bug that later turned into a moth. He put bat boxes in his field, and eventually bats came and fed on the moths. By the next harvest, he had virtually no pests. Without these animals, we may see an increase in the amount of pests in farmers fields. Hopefully these adorable creatures will be able to come back!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I never thought about bats serving as pest control for farmers. That's pretty cool!