All of us should care about bats, because our food depends on their consumption of pests. BigWind slaughters large numbers of bats. How many? It is hard to tell b/c BigWind has a reputation for ‘clearing’ the area of carcasses before the counters arrive. In NW Ohio, Iberdrola has sued to BLOCK them from releasing their kill data. Many people know the honeybees are in trouble, but few understand the importance of the bat. Share the info below with a farmer…
A secret war is waged above farmland every night.
Just after dusk, high-stakes aerial combat is fought in the darkness atop the crop canopy. Nature’s air force arrives in waves over crop fields, sometimes flying in from 30 miles away. Bat colonies blanket the air with echo location clicks and dive toward insect prey at up to 60 mph. In games of hide-and-seek between bats and crop pests, the bats always win, and the victories are worth billions of dollars to U.S. agriculture.
Bats are a precious, but unheralded friend of farmers, providing consistent crop protection. Take away the colonies of pest killers and insect control costs would explode across farmland. And just how much do bats save agriculture in pesticide use? Globally, the tally may reach a numbing $53 billion per year, according to estimates from the University of Pretoria, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), University of Tennessee, and Boston University.
A 2006 study proposed bats saved cotton growers $74 per acre in pesticide treatments across eight Texas counties…
Maines built a canopy system to prevent bats from accessing particular sections of corn at night…He kept the vigil over two years, sliding the big curtain at the given dusk hour from May to late September to cut off bat access to earworm moths. The results? Maines was astonished.
He found a 50% reduction in earworm presence in control areas and a similar reduction in damage to corn ears. Not only did bats suppress earworm larvae and direct damage to corn, they also hindered the presence of fungal species and toxic compounds. “Globally, we estimate bats save corn farmers over $1 billion annually in earworm control,” Maines says. “It’s an incredible amount when we’re only considering one pest and one crop. Bats are truly a vital economic species.”
Would producers see greater crop protection with more bat habitat? In general, researchers don’t know how many bats fly over a single acre of farmland at night….
Paul Cryan, a USGS research biologist at the Fort Collins Science Center, says of up to 45 bat species in the U.S., 41 to 42 eat nothing but insects. “Our U.S. bats are small — 10 to 20 grams. They have voracious appetites and eat half or all their body weight each night. Pest control value to agriculture is certainly in the billions of dollars per year.”…
Cryan coauthored a seminal 2011 paper, Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture, suggesting the loss of bats would cost U.S. agriculture at least $3.7 billion per year. “We’re typically scared of the dark, but bats shouldn’t be a part of that association. They’re such a beneficial and important part of the environment and farmland protection.”