Going batty.

One of my early memories is of a time when I was around three years old and a bat got into the old house we were living in while my father was at work doing third shift.  My terrified mother, who was only 20 years old at the time, called the police.  I remember my mother hiding in a corner with me while the two officers ran around the house with a broom and a blanket; they finally caught it with the blanket and whacked it to death with the broom.

When our eldest daughter was in third grade, her teacher did a unit on bats.  The teacher really liked bats, which rubbed off on our daughter, who became an amateur bat PR person and conservationist. One day she came home sobbing because her best friend, who was not in Bat Teacher’s class, unthinkingly said that she didn’t like bats, they were icky and scary and had diseases.

“They *hic* aren’t icky, Mom,” our girl cried. “Th-there good.  They eat bugs.  They don’t try to bite people. They’re…*sob*…misunderstood!  Bats are good!”

Yes, she was a sensitive child.

She even saved her allowance money and donated it to a bat conservation group. And she was always pestering her dad to help her build a bat house, which he never got around to doing.

But he’s getting around to doing it now, and you should too.

Why, you ask?  Well, did you know that in the past seven years, 80% of the bats in the Northeast have died?  That’s eighty percent!  A fast moving epidemic caused by a fungal infection has wiped out millions of bats and the illness is spreading; last summer the disease, called White-Nose Syndrome, was confirmed in bats in Michigan.

This is not only tragic, it’s also very bad news for humans.  Get ready to call the Orkin man because it’s about to get a whole lot buggier around here.  Actually, instead of calling the Orkin man, let’s try to create some habitat to aid those bats that remain.

Because not only are bats one of the cutest animals with wings…

Behold the cuteness.

but they also eat lots of yucky bugs:

In fact:

One insect-eating bat consumes about 2,000 to 6,000 insects each night. Bats eat their body weight in food each night. If you could eat as much as a bat, you would eat a stack of pizzas as tall as you are for dinner!

Hey, all you bats, I’ve got 2,000 to 6,000 insects available!  In fact, once summer hits, I’ll have, oh, about 2 to 6 billion insects for you.  Come on down to my pond for a free all-you-can-eat buffet, nightly at dusk.

When we were at the Dexter Mill several weeks ago to buy chicken feed for our beloved and *sniffle* now re-homed baby chicks (the rash on my arms is fading but still there, thanks for asking), we saw some bat houses on a shelf, so we stopped to have a look.  My husband saw one that caught his fancy:

image

We have a number of dead standing trees in a boggy area behind our pond and these trees make the perfect home for bats. The directions explained that bat houses must be placed at least 15 feet from the ground on the south side of the tree with a clear flight path in (no low hanging branches or electrical wires), so my husband got a ladder and got to work:

image

Hopefully a small colony will set up home here soon and start consuming thousands of delicious, delicious bugs…

image

On the other side of the pond is where we’ve been planting our little orchard and will be putting in raised vegetable and herb beds, so I’ve got a use for the composted bat droppings that will hopefully build up under this tree.

The Cranbrook Institute here in southern Michigan is also home to the Organization for Bat Conservation.  You can find directions to build your own bat house and a step-by-step video tutorial by following the link.  We plan to make more bat houses to hang on dead trees and telephone poles, and I encourage everyone to do the same if you can.

According to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, “…a recent economic analysis indicated that insect suppression services provided by bats to U.S. agriculture is valued between 4 to 50 billion dollars per year.”  That’s billion with a “b”. Losing 80% of our bats is going to put our farmers in a serious Battle of the Bugs.  Let’s help them out…instead of Victory Gardens, let’s build Victory Bat Houses!

If only we had a bat poster like those slightly goofy but rather charming Victory Garden government posters…something like this, only with the family building a bat house instead of a garden:

Plant a Garden for Victory

 

or maybe a bat instead of a woman with a gun, swooping by to devour the pest with the title “Swoop to kill!” and “Protect your BATS”.

Protect your victory garden

 

I’ll report back on the state of our future bat colony!

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7 thoughts on “Going batty.

  1. LOL! Your mother called the police? I love that. We have many bat houses and bat caves where I live and you are right, they are very good at eating all the bugs. Bats have a bad reputation and they’re kind of spooky, but they really serve a vital purpose in the world and for the most part, they leave people alone. Bats don’t really like us, either. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Growing up, we lived in an old farm house and our non-insulated laundry room, off our bathroom, was wrought with bats. I have had to attack several bats that got in through the porch and were flying around our house as a child and yet now, as an adult, my families’ house has an inactive chimney that bats live in and on summer nights when my husband and I are outside on our deck, they come flying out of there in droves and I am still scared motionless by them.

    Also, I am quite surprised no one has decided to drop this gem into the mix, and so I respectfully offer some great “Bat” music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaTFgY8kZcU&list=RDXaTFgY8kZcU

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bats rock! We have quite a few. I love watching them around our pole light at night. They dive and fly past the bugs so fast eating them as they fly around the light. It’s also why we turn off our back door light at night. We had one buzz our heads trying to get a bug around our light on the house. Kind of unnerving when you walk out in the dark and feel something fly by.

    Like

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