Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bats Coming Out to Collect Insects

Two days in a row last week, students were treated to the spectacle of a bat roosting above the doorway at Toledo Elementary School. Both days, the bats were captured and released unharmed in the woods away from the school.  On Tuesday, I took the second to the old growth forest at Lewis & Clark State Park.

As it turns out, bats are just beginning to emerge from hibernation to begin their annual harvest of buzzing insects.

We have all seen the little bird-like mammal twisting, turning and contorting in the sky at dusk capturing insects within the membranes of their wings. Most people don’t realize that roosting bats are also hunting unwary insects that come near.

It is also no secret, despite their bad reputation, bats are an important part of the overall ecosystem. Each bat it is estimated, eats it own weight in insects every day. That is a lot less mosquitoes.

In all Washington State hosts about 15 species of bats. Most eat insects from the air, but some are able to hunt prey like crickets and scorpions right on the ground or in trees.

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