Can a bat really eat 1,000 mosquitoes in a single hour? Um, no. Well, they could
but it ain't going to happen so please don't hold your breath. This
myth has been perpetuated by overly optimistic vendors misinterpreting that
"bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquito sized
insects per hour" Literally true but extremely misleading. Sadly neither
mosquitoes nor mosquito sized insects are the preferred 'bug' in
the diet of any
known North American species of bat.
The good news is that
mosquitoes are in fact on the menu of numerous species of
bats including some very important ones that will inhabit artificial
roosts. (Psst, these bat houses I'm selling) Let's look at some
more realistic figures for a moment. Some reliable research shows that
mosquitoes comprise approximately 1% of a typical bats diet. If we
assume that our Mrs "Typical Bat" never reaches that magical peak of
1,000 per hour and only averages 250
insects per hour over an 8 hour shift. (Goes and gets calculator...)
250 X 8 = 2,000 per night. (A very conservative figure which is also
frequently stated) Not sure if that 1% was by weight or number,
but either way that is still a potential of at least 20 less
mosquitoes per bat per night.
Sounds quite disappointing until
you consider that a maternity colony sized bat house can easily hold
well over 200 bats. 200 X 20 = 4,000 and now we are back to making a dent
in the mosquito population!
Many bat house landlords have
reported a noticeable decrease in the number of mosquito bites in the first few
minutes after the bats emerge in the evening. While this is possibly due to
the mosquitoes sensing large predators suddenly showing up and going
into hiding. However, I think the bats catching a few quick snacks to
hold them until they fly to their nightly feeding grounds plays a big
part as well. Think about it: if the bats were not eating a few mosquitoes the rest would have no reason to go into hiding. So until we find out for sure, let's all quit
exaggerating what these wonderful little critters can do and just
accept that "Bats Eat Bugs!"
Well, all of them except this one cute fruit bat my brother photographed in a zoo somewhere.
Thanks for visiting!