North Georgia Wildlife Part 10 (Bats)
Most people think of bats as a pest, however they are a very valuable and fascinating part of Georgia’s heritage. They provide a beneficial service by eating flying insects, many of which are considered pests. Did you know a single bat can eat hundreds of mosquitoes in one hour! They also eat a large numbers of moths and beetles that cause agricultural damage!
Georgia is home to 16 species of bats! Some of these species appear to be adaptive and they roost and forage in altered habitats such as suburban and agricultural landscapes. They sometimes can even hangout on the eves of your house or patio. So how do you know if you have a little bat friend visiting you? Bat droppings! Yes, it’s a little gross but because bats are seldom seen its the best way to tell if you have a one.
Even though bats are very good to have around for pest control if you want to get rid of your little winged friend the best way is to get a fake owl. Owls are natural predators of bats so once they see it they will most likely stay away.
Unlike the bats in suburban areas other species of bats have specific habitat needs, such as caves with specific temperatures and humidity, or large, hollow trees. The populations of these species are more vulnerable to habitat alterations and are of conservation concern.
The are other factors impacting bat populations and decreasing the numbers in Georgia as well. These include pesticides and water quality, and lately a mysterious disease known as white nose syndrome.
White nose syndrome was first observed in a New York cave back in 2006, the condition is named for the fuzzy white fungus that grows on the wings and muzzles of infected bats as they attempt to hibernate in caves. The bats become active and essentially starve before their normal awakening in the spring. White nose syndrome has since killed an estimated 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The disease was first documented in Georgia in early 2013, and officials are working with caving and other conservation groups to combat the disease.
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