Spring Has Sprung, And The Bats Are Coming Out To Play
Now that warm weather has been making it's first appearance, I've noticed online, that my friends have made mention of bats more than a few times. Or night birds, as my mom used to call them. The fraidy-cat part of me still thinks bats are going to land in my hair and make an awful mess, because that was my childhood urban legend about bats. Which is doubly funny considering I have no hair. But on the other hand, it's fantastic news for a bunch of different reasons.
First and foremost, it's awesome because bats eat mosquitoes and black flies by the ton. And pretty much every other flying insect out there. The other reason it's so great is because the bat population of Maine has declined almost 90% in recent years due to the proliferation of a fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome.
This is a real problem for the overall population. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife explains:
It’s normal for hibernating bats to wake up periodically during the winter but bats infected with White Nose Syndrome wake much more frequently and use up their winter fat reserves, sometimes causing them to leave the cave in the dead of winter searching for food.
I've witnessed this even on a personal level. For years, out at camp, you'd see dozens of bats flying around at night doing their business, and frequently living in the walls of the camp. We haven't seen a single bat out there in years. And the amount of biting insects has become almost unbearable since their decline.
As bats come out of their hibernacula, a term for the caves and such that year-round bats hibernate in for the winter, they immediately begin trying to get back to their original roosts. So the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife suggests that you can leave cover on your property for them to roost. They love dead trees with scraggly bark where they can rest during the day. You can also hang a bat house on your property. It's kind of like a bird house, but with no bottom.
Really, bats are your friend. Sure, they get a bad rep thanks to Australian Fruit Bats that are pretty much the size of a flying pit bull, or from vampire bats, which are the root of almost every Dracula movie ever made. But really, bats don't want anything to do with you if they can help it. They don't want to be in your house, or camp or especially your hair.
So embrace the little critters, and put up a bat house, or leave that dead tree where it's leaning. Just maybe, you'll get to enjoy some nice summer nights outside while your neighbors are inside complaining about the bugs!