As Halloween passes by, one of the images most closely associated with thisspooky holiday is that of the bat. There are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon. Bats are very active in the fall, which means there are usually more sightings as Halloween approaches. In addition, bats are a bit mysterious and elusive, and people tend to fear things that are foreign to them. However, bats are actually quite useful, and rather than provoking fear, they should garner respect.
An enemy of mosquitoes and other pests
Able to eat hundreds of mosquitoes in just an hour, bats prey on the bugs that cause farmers the most trouble. Stink bugs, cutworms and cucumber beetles, among others, are all targets. Since they enjoy fluttering around trees, the moth population is also dramatically reduced in areas where bats are present. In one evening, a bat can consume one or two pounds of bugs, depending on its body weight. While the benefits to farmers are obvious, bats also help reduce the population of disease-carrying bugs, providing immediate benefits to the general population as well.
Some farmers in California are even helping the bat population thrive by constructing bat houses on their property. Encouraging bats to stick around, and even make a “home,” is a natural form of pest control. While the typical American family may not want to resort to such measures, it is important for everyone to realize that bats are helpful and generally should not be harmed.
Carriers of disease
Another reason that bats may be associated with the witches, goblins and ghosts of Halloween is the fact that some are a carrier of a rabies, a disease that can be very scary. It is important to remember, though, that not all bats have rabies, and there are actually several other animals (including raccoons and skunks) that are much more likely to have it than bats. In fact, more people die from dog attacksand lightning strikesthan from rabid bats.
Still, as a precautionary measure, no one should ever touch or hold a bat. In addition, pets like dogs and cats should have the rabies vaccination. Keep in mind that bats have been known to find their way inside houses from time to time, so even an animal that rarely ventures out of the confines of a dwelling still needs to have the vaccination.
Bats don’t really deserve the negative reputation that has been ascribed to them over the years. They are actually quite helpful creatures, preventing an overpopulation of pests like mosquitoes and leafhoppers. While they may seem frightening, the vast majority are harmless. If, however, one does make its way inside your home, calling a pest control specialist is often the best course of action.
Image credit: Wikipedia
- License: Creative Commons image source
Stephanie is a blogger for NJ Pest Control.