Year of the Bat

Post by Allison

Amazing. Fascinating. Adorable. Essential. These are the first words that come to mind when I think about bats. Would you use the same descriptors? 

Bats are highly beneficial and play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature. They help control insect pests and are vital pollinators and seed-dispersers for countless plants worldwide. Yet the world’s only flying mammal is still among the most feared and misunderstood of animal groups.

Myths and misinformation continue to create needless fears, threatening bat populations around the world. Add the threat of white-nose syndrome, a disease devastating North American bats, to the list of concerns and it’s obvious that bats need our help. Bat populations are declining almost everywhere. Knowledge is the key to their recovery.

The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species and the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats have designated 2011-2012 as the “Year of the Bat”. This two-year celebratory campaign has coordinated efforts across the globe to promote conservation, research and education on this unique and important group of mammals.

The Lake County Forest Preserves is promoting the Year of the Bat through a series of programs, events and other educational efforts in 2012:

  • BatFest—Saturday, July 14, 6-9:30 pm. The grand finale of the event will be watching bats leave the lair as they head out for their nightly food hunt over Lakewood Forest Preserve.
  • Lake County Fair booth—July 25-29. Visit the Lake County Forest Preserves booth. Meet staff, play educational games and win fun bat-themed giveaways.
  • Bat Acoustic Monitoring—Saturday, August 11, 8-9:30 pm. Join an environmental educator and learn how bats use echolocation to find and capture insects.

The Forest Preserves have gone batty—and we hope you do, too! After centuries of misunderstandings, bats have developed a poor public image. We can all help reverse these myths by raising public awareness about the importance of bats in our community. Understanding the positive role bats play in the environment can encourage people to welcome bats into their backyards (a single little brown bat can consume 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in one hour!). Learn more about Lake County, Illinois’ bat species in this brochure, or visit Bat Conservation International’s website for instructions to build a bat box and other easy ways to help local bat populations.

It’s easy to appreciate the earth’s only flying mammal in action. Bats live throughout Lake County. Follow these simple steps to discovery:

  1. Locate a forest or water edge at dusk.
  2. Look towards the sky.
  3. Watch as bats navigate obstacles in search of insects.

This post is dedicated to the bat—the “incredibly fascinating, delightfully likeable masters of our night skies.” —Dr. Merlin Tuttle

9 thoughts on “Year of the Bat

  1. Bats are fun to watch at dusk as they hurry from one meal to the next. Very fast, very quick and always seem to know where they are going.

  2. For the past three years or so I’ve seen a bachelor bat flying around my house in Libertyville. Years before that I would see two, so I’m thinking maybe one died. I love watching them turn on dime

  3. Yes, i get a variety of bugs from little naure areas i planted, but the lack of mosquitoes has me wondering if the bats are finding enough to eat. I do have a regular garden where it might find some grubs, but other than some drangonflys i haven’t seen too many bugs this year, although the cicadias have come out. They like running into my siding at full speed. Silly bugs

    • There are still plenty of moths and beetles, which many Lake County bat species eat, too. So, I don’t think food is scarce but that’s merely a theory. With this wacky weather, it’s hard to tell!

  4. I love bats! I think they’re cute and so very essential. I wonder how they’re doing now that we haven’t been getting rain and have less mosquitoes for them to munch on.

  5. Pingback: Poison ivy primer | Lake County Nature

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