Bats Are:
Important

Bats & Agriculture

Yuma myotis in pursuit of a moth

Farmers and agriculture can benefit tremendously from bats. Pests, such as the corn earthworm moth, infest commercial plants ranging from melons to corn, soybeans to cotton. Bats directly impact our own food by eating bollworms, mosquitoes, and larvae harmful to agriculture reducing the need for toxic pesticides.

From the 2011 report in Science (Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture): “Estimating the economic importance of bats in agricultural systems is challenging, but published estimates of the value of pest suppression services provided by bats ranges from about $12 to $173/acre (with a most likely scenario of $74/acre) in a cotton-dominated agricultural landscape in south-central Texas.” If we extrapolate the Texas figures across the United States, the estimated value of bats to agriculture may be “as low as $3.7 billion/year and as high as $53 billion/year. These estimates include the reduced costs of pesticide applications that are not needed to suppress the insects consumed by bats.” The dollar value estimate doesn’t include environmental or timber industry savings. Here in Texas, bats save our farmers about $6.4 million per annual cotton harvest.

Farmers and ranchers who want to take advantage of the pest control benefits of bats can try the following to potentially attract bats:

  • Provide a water source
  • Establish hedgerows of native vegetation to provide habitat
  • Consider installing bat houses to provide shelter
  • Use bat-friendly lighting
  • Maintain potential roost trees (snags)
  • Help protect local roosts
  • Maintain/enhance habitat at local bridges
 
 
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BCI's Public Lands Program Director discusses stock
pond conversion to wetland water for livestock at
Ranney Ranch in Corona, New Mexico with producers

Maintaining a fresh water supply can benefit both bats and agriculture. Improving or restoring water infrastructure can provide water for cattle and other livestock as well as water for wildlife. Land health can be improved through better grazing planning practices.

These practices are critical to deal with the tough challenges of drought. Producers can address multiple needs including maintaining wildlife habitat that provides important ecosystem services as well as serving as viable enterprises. Producers who wish to employ these practices can consult the Resources section below for guidance.

 

 

Resources

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Water for Wildlife Handbook
Download
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Water for Wildlife Pocket Guide
Download
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Integrated Pest Management Booklet
Download
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Bat House Builders Handbook
Download
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Community Bat House Plans
Download (zip file)
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Bats & Forest Management
Download
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Bats in American Bridges
Download

 

 

BATS Magazine Articles

 

Management Practices

 

Agricultural Presentations

Bat Conservation International conducted a series of webinars for producers which began on 7/23/14 and concluded 8/27/14. Topics included “Bats and Integrated Pest Management in Agriculture”, “Value of Foraging Bats: IPM Far and Wide”, “Restoring and Creating Natural and Constructed Wetlands and Other Water Sources for Bats, Other Wildlife, and Livestock”, “Monitoring for Bats”, “Bats and Wind Energy: Best Management Practices”, and “Agriculture, Bats and Mine Closures”. Presentations from the webinars are available for download:

For additional information please contact Rebecca Patterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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