Bats Should Be a Welcomed Form of Pest Control
August 15, 2016
Residents of Jacksonville love the backyard barbecue; we dare say more than anyone else in the country. During the warmer months of the year, as the sun sets and the grill dies down, chances are you’ve seen the fluttering of bats devouring mosquitoes and other flying insects. While some fear bats, others see them as a welcomed form of pest control.
Like many “pests” in Florida, bats are highly misunderstood creatures. The bats in our area can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour, using specialized echo-location to find their food. Unfortunately, more than half of the bat species in the United States are in severe decline or listed as endangered. The biggest reason for this is the loss of habitat. Since most bats only have one pup each year, they are highly susceptible to endangerment.
Many people don’t realize that bat droppings, called guano, are one of the richest fertilizers on the planet. In fact, guano was Texas’ largest mineral export before oil! Seasonally, Austin is home to North America’s largest urban population of Mexican free-tailed bats, taking up their home under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin TX. Nearly 1.5 million bats live under this bridge during migration. This location is protected by the Bat Conservation International group. While bats lived in Austin for many years, they didn’t arrive in such large numbers until a major deck reconstruction in 1980. The new construction included long crevices 16 inches deep running the entire length of the bridge. This is primarily where the bats take up roost as temperature and humidity conditions are ideal for raising young.
A recent movement has been sweeping the nation as residents are setting up bat habitats on their property to help protect the population. Most people don’t mind bats when they’re outside, however if one gets in your home, that is when our phone rings. This can be more common as the holidays approach. Heading up into your warm attic to get the Christmas decorations this year, you may just find a bat or two that has taken up residence. Typically there is nothing to fear of Florida bats, but we understand that you still don’t want them roosting in your house.