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Backyard Birding: Bats

I have noticed both at home and at the cottage that this years’ mosquito population is thriving.  The spring conditions were perfect for a pesky population explosion.   So this week we are highlighting the only mammal with the ability to fly…the bat.

Bats can consume up to 600 insects an hour! (not sure how you would count that) A bat can consume the equivalent of its own weight in one night. Since the species in Canada are strictly insectivores, they help control insect populations. The ecological services provided by bats reduce damage to harvests by insect pests. In this way, they act as natural insecticides.  By consuming flying insect pests, bats have been shown to reduce the amount of pest insect larva on corn crops and in turn increase crop yields.

The four most common bats in Waterloo Region are the small brown bat, large brown bat, hoary bat and the eastern red bat.  The little brown bat is still at risk due to a condition called white-nose syndrome.

To attract bats to your yard, bat houses can be installed.   The rule of thumb is to install them at least 15 feet off the ground on a pole or the side of a building.  Bats love small confined places.  Unfortunately, this could be in your walls and ceiling if they find a way in.  It will take some time for them to move into their new homes, so be patient!    You can usually find bat houses at your local birding store, or they are pretty simple to make.  Bats generally do not migrate over the winter months, so they will hibernate.

Soon your home or your farm could be safer than Gotham City from mosquitos and pests.

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