Big brown bat. Photo by Jen Mui, INHS.
Edit embedded media in the Files Tab and re-insert as needed.
1. Bats eat mosquitoes
While small in size, bats are ferocious predators of insects, including mosquitoes. A recent study showed that mosquitos were part of the diet for almost 72% of little brown bats, a species that can be found throughout Illinois. So next time you are spending time in your backyard, thank your local bat for helping keep the mosquitoes at bay!
2. Bats consume crop pests
Aside from munching on mosquitos, bats also prey on crop-eating insects like stinkbugs, moths, and beetles. By feasting on these pests, bats cut down on crop herbivory and reduce the amount of herbicide farmers need to apply. On corn alone, farmers save approximately $1 billion globally through reduced herbicide application.
3. Bats pollinate plants
Bats can also serve as pollinators! Some bat species in the southeast United States, including the endangered lesser long-nosed bat, drink nectar from flowers, spreading pollen from flower to flower as they feed during the night. Are you a fan of tequila? Bats are the main pollinator for the plant it's made from—agave!
4. Bats help plant seeds
Fruit bats found in Africa, Asia, and Australia exclusively consume fruit. As they fly, their fruit seed-ridden feces falls to the forest floor. By "planting" fruit seeds in new places, fruit bats help with reforestation in the tropics!
5. Bats help reduce disease
Unfortunately, bats are often painted as the bad guys, especially around Halloween. However, they help reduce the spread of insect-borne diseases like West Nile and malaria by eating mosquitos and other insect vectors.