Batty infobytes for Halloween!

You know how bats are sometimes referred to as “Flying Mice”?  Bet you didn’t know that bats are more closely related to humans than to mice!!!  I have seen bat colonies in caves, and flying out over the open countryside in the evenings to hunt for insects to feed their families, but I have never seen any on my property.  I plan to rectify that by building some bat houses.
Bat houseThere are many free building plans available on the internet, and they can also be purchased ready-made.  A good resource for bat information is Bat Conservation International, https://www.batcon.org.

Contrary to popular opinion, bats are not blind – they have excellent vision, but they also use a biological sonar called echolocation to hunt fast-flying insects in total darkness!  Bats groom their fur like cats and kittens, which shows they are not “dirty”.  Only three of more than 1,250 bat species are vampire bats that feed on blood, and all of them are in Latin America.  Only one targets mammals, and it prefers domestic livestock.  So, you’re not likely to encounter any vampire bats this Halloween.

Bats pollinate bananas in the wild.  The modern-day banana that we find in our grocery stores are of the Cavendish variety which has no seeds and is propagated by suckers.  This sterility makes it difficult to breed new edible varieties. And new ones are needed because commercial bananas, such as the popular Cavendish, are so susceptible to disease that they now require more fungicide spraying than any other crop. Yet diseases are rare among wild bananas, in which the constant mixing of genes has evolved resistance to local pathogens.  Bats also pollinate cashews, dates, figs, peaches, avocados, agaves (think Tequila!!) and many other important plants.
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Bats are important insect hunters.  More than two-thirds of bat species feed on insects.  A mother bat can eat up to her body weight in insects every night, and a million bats can eat as much as 10 tons of bugs!  The millions of free-tailed bats in Central Texas’ Bracken Cave consume up to 200 tons of insects each summer night!
Pollinators.Bat.Street.BoysThanks to Batcon.org and unknown sources on the internet for much of the above information

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