Introduction to Bats
Bats may be the most misunderstood animals in the United States, although as consumers of enormous numbers of insects, they rank among the most beneficial. Almost all United States bats, and 70 percent of the bat species worldwide, feed almost exclusively on insects and are thus extremely beneficial. In fact, bats are the only major predators of night-flying insects. One bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 mosquitoes and other insect pests in just one hour (Organization for Bat Conservation).
While most United States bat species are insectivorous, bats in other parts of the world feed on a variety of items in addition to insects. Many species feed primarily on fruit, while several types feed on nectar and pollen. Fruit bats perform an extremely important function as seed dispersers. Nectar eating bats, including the federally-listed endangered lesser long-nosed (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae) and greater Mexican long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris nivalis), are important pollinators. Many plant species depend almost entirely on bats for pollination.
Of the 45 species of bats found in the continental United States, six are federally-listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. These species include the gray bat (Myotis grisescens), Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis),Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus (=Plecotus) townsendii ingens), Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus (=Plecotus) townsendii virginianus) as well as the two long-nosed bats mentioned above. In addition to the listed continental U.S. species, the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus)(Hawaii), little Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus tokudae)(Guam) and Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus mariannus)(Guam), are also listed as endangered. Twenty other species are considered to be of special concern and may be proposed for listing as endangered or threatened in the future. Populations of several of the remaining species, especially cave-dwelling species, also appear to be declining.
Information for this web site was taken almost exclusively from:
Bats of the United States
In Cooperation with the
Copies of this publication are available from the Service's Asheville, North Carolina Field Office (828) 258-3939
Updated: August 29, 2000