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Bats in more than belfries in Ohio

Perhaps not coincidentally given the spooky holiday of Halloween, October is the month of the bat.

Farm Bureau’s member benefits partner, the Ohio History Connection, put together a list of bat facts that dispels several well-known beliefs about the only flying mammals to exist on the planet. Bats are not rodents and they are not blind, but some species are pollinators.

There are 1,054 species of bats worldwide. Ohio has 13 species, none of which sustain life by drinking blood. Some species do, but those are found in other parts of the globe.

Here in the Buckeye State, bats are good to have around for a couple of reasons – they feast on mosquitoes and other harmful insects. Many farmers even have bat houses or bat boxes to attract them to stay close to their property and produce. Also, bats who eat nectar are pollinators right along with bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Bat populations are declining, however, due to White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal infection that is thought to have been accidentally introduced about 10 years ago to North American bats who hibernate in caves, where the harmful fungus thrives.

So while bats, or just the thought of them, might freak out a good majority of the population, they play an important role in our ecosystem.

 

Kelli Milligan Stammen is director of publications for the Ohio Farm Bureau.