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Well .. it’s that time of year again in Arizona. For the past several weeks the bats have been wiping out our hummingbird feeder every night as they migrate back to Mexico for the winter.
Bats get a bad rap but they really are very docile creatures. They can squeeze into holes as small as 3/8” and are attracted to spaces inside buildings and attics, under bridges, in culverts, behind siding on buildings, in palm trees, and under eaves and porch or patio awnings.
Almost a third of the world's bats feed on the fruit or nectar of plants. In return for their meals, these bats are vital pollinators of countless plants (many of great economic value) and essential seed dispersers with a major role in regenerating rainforests. About 1 percent of bats eat fish, mice, frogs or other small vertebrates.
And we absolutely LOVE having bats around since they really put a dent in the bug (esp skeeter) population, although we don't have near the insect problem here as most other states.
Did you know…
...a single bat can eat more than 1,000 insects in an hour, including mosquitoes ... and many insects avoid areas where they hear bats?!
...there are more than 1,200 species of bats in the world and Arizona is home to 28 species of bats — more than almost any other state?!
...they range from the world's smallest mammal, the tiny bumblebee bat that weighs less than a penny to giant flying foxes with six-foot wingspans?!
...a bump of only 1/16” is enough for a bat to hang from?!
As mentioned above, during their migration to and from Mexico large numbers of batty bats visit Southern AZ hummer feeders at night. They stick their long tongues into the feeder to drink and, if you sit outside (or watch thru a window with a flashlight) you’ll see dozens and dozens of them jockeying for position to slurp up the sugar water.
Here’s a great pic from Wikimedia commons...
And check out the Arizona Game & Fish Dept’s “Living with bats” page for some health and safety tips (or visit your state G&F Dept for specific data about bats in your part of the country).
One final note, if you're interested in attracting bats to your property, visit the Bat Conservation International site to learn how to install a bat house.
Or, if you're lucky enough to live in a migratory pattern like we do, just fill up the hummer feeder every day so hummingbirds (and bees - but that's another story) can snarf during the day ... and the batty bats can get their sugar fix at night!