Bats, just the word alone can cause shivers on people. Thinking that they will bite and you’ll turn into a vampire or that they will get in your hair are just some of the bat myths that will be busted by the Johnson County Master Gardeners.
The JCMG are hosting an education night at 6 p.m. May 18 at the Winston Patrick McGregor Park.
Kate Rugroden, who does bat rescue, will bring some of her bats and educate the Master Gardeners and the public on how bats can help us in our yards and gardens. Kate volunteers with Bat World rescue in Mineral Wells as director of special projects. She also has a permanent bat colony for rescues that cannot be released to the wild and holds the necessary for state and federal permits to house and rehabilitate bats.
Kate said there are several species of bats that consider the Dallas-Fort Worth area their home. The free tailed bat — Tadarida brasiliensis — and the red bat — Lasiurus borealis — which roosts in trees are just a few of the bats that live in our area. The bats that live in the DFW area are insectivores. In other parts of the world, bats serve as pollinators and aid with seed dispersal especially in the rainforest. Fruit and nectar bats contribute to over 450 commercial products and to over 80 different medicines. Bats are also an environmental indicator, if things are good in the environment, there are a lot of bats, if not, and the population of bats tends to decline.
Seventy percent of bats are insectivores, which means that those bats consume only insects. Some bats can catch and eat up to 1,200 insects in one hour. They eat a lot of mosquitoes, including those infected with West Nile virus. The virus has no effect on the bats.
Bats are mammals, they give live birth and are social creatures. When you see a “bird” swooping for a bug at night, it is most likely a bat searching for and catching many insects. Another benefit of bats is their manure, it is high in nitrogen, phosphorus and trace minerals. It has natural fungicidal qualities and usually does not contain pesticides or chemicals.
Structural damage is not caused by having bats in the area, if you have a few bats it is because they have found a food source. Bats do not chew on a home’s wiring or wood either. By having a bat house in your yard, you will give the bats a place where they can live.
Joyce Block of Alvarado is a Johnson County Master Gardener. For more information, visit txmg.org/johnson or aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu or call the Extension office 817-556-6370. Like us on Facebook at Johnson County Master Gardeners.