Aerial Pest Control


Ghosts, goblins, and bats are some of the scary creatures found on Halloween night. The insectivorous bats of the Midwest, however, are the good guys on any other night. These nocturnal hunters have an undeserved bad reputation, and their contributions to natural control of mosquitoes and other insects is often overlooked. The specific impact of bats on insect populations has not been studied, except in very general terms, but it has been documented that a single bat can catch and eat 500 or more insects in an hour.

Most bats eat from 1/4 to 1/2 their body weight in insects nightly at such a feeding rate an average-sized bat will consume 4 to 8 pounds of bugs in one year! Many of these insects are pests, such as mosquitos, moth and beetle agricultural pests, and other nuisance pests, but some of the arthropods consumed by bats may be beneficial as well.

Earlier in this century bat roosts were built to try to concentrate bats in particular areas in order to use them to control insects. The first "malaria eradication guano-producing bat roost", built in 1911, targeted malaria-transmitting mosquitos in Florida. Most bat houses these days are erected for conservation purposes, since many species of bats are now threatened. One of the most important factors in the decline of bat populations in the United States is the destruction of natural roosts either directly or indirectly by human activities.

Additional reading:

- Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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