Kitchen Gardening

Adopt a Bat for Halloween

Bats are often portrayed as scary, but what’s happening to these fuzzy flying mammals is really terrifying. Here’s how gardeners can help.

Bracken Cave Preserve. Photo: Jonathan Alonzo, courtesy of Batcon.org

Bats play a vital role in our environment and our agricultural economy. They disperse seeds, pollinate crops, and feast on insects. Our world as gardeners—and consumers—wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have bats. Therefore, you might consider adopting a bat for Halloween.

Many bat species are endangered

Loss of habitat and overuse of pesticides have continually caused problems for bats, but now they face an even more terrifying threat called white-nose syndrome.

This cold-loving fungus is responsible for killing millions of bats over the last ten years, and millions more could die because of it. Scientists and researchers are working to find a way to stop it, but no solution has yet been found.

Roosting Mexican Free Tailed bat.
Roosting Mexican free-tailed bat. Photo: Michael Durham Minden Pictures, courtesy of Batcon.org

Why support bats?

In their role as insect-eaters, bats can consume more than 1,000 mosquito-size insects each hour they fly. Economically speaking, bats provide a valuable service to farmers by eating agricultural pests such as corn earworms and armyworm moths.

And if you’ve ever enjoyed a cocktail mixed with tequila, you can thank a bat. The blue agave plant, from which tequila is derived, depends on bats as pollinators. About 70 percent of tropical fruit also depends on bats for either pollination or seed dispersal. The list includes bananas, plantains, figs, dates, mangoes, papaya, and guava.

Florida bonneted bat
Florida bonneted bat. Photo: Michael Jemison, Bat Conservation International

How to help bats

There are a number of ways gardeners can help bats. One way is to plant a wildlife garden that attracts moths and beetles, some of a bat’s favorite foods. Another way to help is to install one or more bat houses in your landscape.

Another way to help endangered bats is to support organizations on the front lines. Bat Conservation International (BCI) is one such organization. This nonprofit is working to protect and create solutions for problems that threaten bats. It also conducts research and teaches about the benefits of these important—and adorable—flying mammals.

As a special Halloween treat, please consider contributing to BCI so it can continue to do this important work.

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