Mosquito Eaters Welcome Here
On Skidaway Island, we love our bats! Bats are wonderful creatures. They are very clean mammals that groom during the day and feed after dark. Bats are great for the environment, as they consume their body weight in flying insects every night.
In addition to being good for the environment, bats are fun to watch as they dart through the sky at dusk in their erratic chase for mosquitoes, moths, Japanese beetles, flies, grasshoppers, and other flying insects, gobbling up more than 1,000 an hour. This entertainment lasts almost nine months, as bats roost year-round on Skidaway Island.
Each year, several species of female bats will roost together, and each will birth a single pup. Yes, a baby bat is called a pup. While there may be as many as 50-to-200 bats in a four-chamber bat house, each mother knows which pup is hers, and she is responsible for the feeding and training of her pup. Pups are not born knowing how to fly. They must be taught by their mother. If the learning cycle is disrupted, the pup will die. Bats are unusual in that they are not able to launch off their back legs and fly into the air like a bird. They must drop down and then open their wings to fly. They are the only mammal capable of sustained flight.
In a joint collaboration with The Landings Club, The Landings Woodworkers Guild, and Skidaway Audubon, volunteers have placed bat boxes in strategic locations around the island to encourage bats to roost, breed, and live here. The bat boxes are constructed of special materials to exact specifications in partnership with a few talented Landings Woodworkers Guild volunteers who generously lend their expert craftsmanship skills to this initiative. Placed at optimal heights with proper sun exposures, the bat houses are erected in carefully selected locations to deter bats from roosting in residences.
Tragically, one of these custom-built bat houses was vandalized recently. Hundreds of dollars worth of materials were lost. The bat house was demolished beyond repair, and years of work trying to establish a colony was lost. This kind of loss is costly and emotionally draining to the volunteers who spend hours building the boxes, researching proper locations, purchasing supplies, and erecting the bat boxes.
It is illegal in the United States to possess, injure or kill a bat, or destroy a bat habitat. Violators are subject to fines and up to six months in prison. Both the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1956 protect many species of bats, including species present on Skidaway Island.
Protecting bat habitats is vitally important. Worldwide, bats play a significant role in agricultural production. More than 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination, including bananas, cocoa, and mangoes.
On Skidaway Island, we encourage you to embrace the mosquito eaters! For more information on Skidaway Audubon’s bat abode program and other environmental initiatives, please visit www.skidawayaudubon.org.
This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website. Visit landings.org to read the original article. https://landings.org/news/2021/02/10/mosquito-eaters-welcome-here%C2%A0