Mosquito myths

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!"

Fruit bat at a zoo

Well, all of them except this one cute fruit bat my brother photographed in a zoo somewhere. 

Thanks for visiting!

William Bagwell

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