General speaking, bats are important indicators of a healthy environment. Because bats are sensitive to high pollution and pesticide levels, they are useful as a warning sign to potential environmental problems. Further, the effectiveness of bats in some areas diminishes the need for pesticides that can harm both the pests and their natural predators. Some species of bats are also vital pollinators of many plants.
Bats are also important weapons in combating insects that are dangerous to humans. With the increased media coverage of the dangers of West Nile Virus, many people are looking for effective ways to prevent the spread of the disease. As most of us are aware, West Nile Virus is primarily spread through mosquitoes. Mosquitoes make up a significant portion of a bat’s diet, and bats cannot contract WNV by eating infected mosquitoes. Approximately 70% of all bats are insectivores, including the majority of North American bats. North American bats primarily feed on night flying insects, especially mosquitoes. A small bat can capture more than 1,200 mosquitoes in a single hour! One of the most effective and environmentally friendly ways to reduce the mosquito population near your home is to install a bat house.
Besides mosquitoes, bats can help control the populations of beetles, moths, and leafhoppers. Bats that live in our yards, in addition to eating pests, serve as natural insect repellents. Many yard pests, especially moths that attack gardens, lawns, and shrubs, can hear bats from over 100 feet away and attempt to avoid them by leaving the area!