Skip

Bats Help Battle Crop Pests

Bats Help Battle Crop Pests

Bats get a bad rap. These crop and farm-friendly creatures consume enormous amounts of insects daily.

They eat the beetles, moths, and leafhoppers that cost landowners billions of dollars in damages each year.

Agricultural ally against insect pests. The benefits of bats to farmers go on and on. A few examples:

  1. Just 150 big brown bats can eat enough cucumber beetles each summer to protect farmers from 33 million of the rootworm larvae. This pest costs American farmers an estimated $1 billion a year.
  2. Bats from just three caves near San Antonio, Texas, eat about one million pounds of insects nightly, including many costly pests.
  3. A Georgia pecan grower is no longer losing 30 percent of his crop to hickory shuckworms. He installed bat houses, now one of them hosts a colony of 2,000 bats.
  4. A little brown bat, Montana’s most common bat species, can eat 1,200 insects in an hour.

Myths about bats. Misconceptions about bats abound. For instance, bats are not blind, they do not become entangled in human hair, and they seldom transmit disease to other animals or humans.

Some bats can maneuver like helicopters to pluck insects from foliage, while others fly 10,000 feet high and dive like jets.

Like most animals, bats suffer from habitat loss. Their primary cause of decline is destruction of natural roosts by humans.

Landowners can help by building and putting up bat houses on their property. Information on bats, including how to build a bat house, how to benefit by attracting bats to bridges, and how to protect bats in caves, is available from Bat Conservation International.

For more information about conservation practices that can improve wildlife habitat on your land, stop at the local NRCS office.

Wildlife Ways

Did you know....
Not only do bats see as well as other animals, they use “echolocation” to detect objects as fine as a human hair in total darkness.

References

If you encounter any problems with the file provided on this page, please contact Technical Resources at 406-587-6822.

The following documents require Adobe Reader.

Bats and Integrated Pest Management (PDF; 2 MB)
Specification 645: Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (PDF; 191 KB)