Do Mexican free-tail bats eat, control mosquito populations? No.

Amanda Lollar of Bat World Sanctuary states that bats control mosquito populations. This is not true. Amanda Lollar gives bad advice intentionally to try to make Mexican free-tail bats appear to only benefit humans and the environment. This is not to say that Mexican free-tail bats don’t consume some mosquitoes or other pests which are harmful to humans. It is just not a main part of their diet. Below is a an article about this. Below that is a link to the rest of the article.



Dr. Robert Corrigan

Often times, people are heard to say, “We should not harm bats because they control mosquitoes and other pests.” But is this true? Do bats, through their feeding, control mosquitoes, or any pests for that matter? Let’s take a closer look at bats and their feeding behavior.

Bats are members of the mammalian order Chiroptera, which means “winged hand.” They represent our only true flying mammals. Bats are not flying mice or rats. In fact, they are not even closely related to rodents. With the exception of only a very few species of bats found in the Southwest that feed on nectar, pollen and fruit, the 40 different bat species of the United States feed exclusively on insects. The species that are most commonly found around urban communities, are the “colonial bats,” which- include the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus, the little brown bat Myotis lucifugus, and the Mexican free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis. The big brown and little brown bats are our most commonly encountered bats around structures in most states, but the Mexican freetailed bat is very numerous in Texas and several other southwestern states.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? Bats may be both opportunistic and selective in their feeding, and several factors are involved as to which specific insects may be consumed in the greatest quantity. In general, research has shown that the little brown bat feeds on softbodied insects such as moths, flies, midges, mosquitoes and mayflies. The larger big brown bat is opportunistic, and preys mostly upon beetles such as ground beetles, June bugs, cucumber beetles and other beetles and insects. The Mexican free-tailed bat consumes primarily moths and beetles.

Among the various types of insects consumed by bats, some are of obvious pest significance, such as the flies, mosquitoes and cucumber beetles mentioned previously. And it is true that a colony of bats can consume thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of insects over several weeks of feeding. But there are several reasons why this cannot necessarily be interpreted as bats control pest populations.”

First, insect populations have no trouble compensating for their losses to bats (or to-‘insectivorous birds, or even to our cars smashing them every night along our highways and interstates). The populations of many insect species, especially flies and mosquitoes, are measured in the millions, and commonly in the hundreds of millions. Second, relative to their relationship to people and the ecosystem, bats consume “bad bugs,” “good bugs” and “neutral bugs.” They are not selective in consuming only those insects that annoy people. Certainly, if a colony of bats consumes several hundred mosquitoes each night in an area, there will be less mosquitoes in that area. But does that mean we can sit out on our porches at night without using bug repellent? Don’t count on it. There are many other factors at play.

This was clearly borne out to me when I was preparing my master’s project on bats. I would stand outside of bat roosts (some containing up to 700 bats) and count the bats as they emerged to feed. The most uncomfortable aspect of that job was how the mosquitoes used to eat me alive while I counted the bats directly over my head. In jest, I used to murmur to the bats as they whizzed by, “Come on! Do your job!” But they had bigger and better goodies to eat over the streams and fields a mile out of town.

Third, we must consider the foraging strategy of the bat. Some people envision bats flying all over their neighborhoods, all night long, capturing and swallowing mosquitoes until dawn. How nice a thought when contemplating plans of sitting out at night during the summer. But the foraging strategy of bats is designed to provide the bats an efficient means of gathering food. Why would a bat spend lots of valuable energy “chasing down” mosquitoes if several larger insects can give it a faster nutritional return?

You can read the rest here. It’s very interesting.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.


About Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Real Estate Appraiser

Mary Cummins is President of Animal Advocates. She is licensed with the California Department of Fish & Game, USDA and the City of Los Angeles to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife. Cummins speaks to local community groups and students about respecting wildlife and humane wildlife control. She is also a Humane Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator. She has written manuals on small mammal rehabilitation besides numerous articles. She was born and raised in Southern California. She attended Beverly Hills Good Shepherd Catholic School and Beverly Hills High School. Besides being a member of Junior Mensa and on the Dean's list, she was a top ten national swimmer and competed on the men's water polo team. She began college at the age of 15 attending the University of Southern California on scholarship, majoring in Psychology/Sociology. After college Cummins became a licensed real estate agent specializing in income property in Los Angeles. She obtained her real estate appraisal license, real estate brokerage license and currently does real estate consulting, expert witness testimony and review appraisals at Cummins Real Estate Services.
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