# What do bats eat?

Bats are the most significant predators of night-flying insects. There are at least 40 different kinds of bats in the U.S. that eat nothing but insects.  A single little brown bat, which has a body no bigger than an adult human’s thumb, can eat 4 to 8 grams (the weight of about a grape or two) of insects each night. Although this may not sound like much, it adds up—the loss of the one million bats in the Northeast has probably resulted in between 660 and 1320 metric tons of insects no longer being eaten each year by bats.

Bats locate each insect by echolocation, then they trap it with their wing or tail membranes and reach down to take the insect into their mouth. This action, as well as the chase, results in the erratic flight most people are familiar with when they observe bats feeding in the late evening or around lights at night.

Other species of bats eat many different things, including fruit, nectar, and pollen. Bats are important pollinators as they fly from plant to plant in search of food. In the southwestern deserts of North America, bats are the key pollinators of saguaro and organ pipe cactus. Tequila is made from the agave plant, which is pollinated by bats.

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### Where do bats live?

Bats can be found in almost all parts of the world and in most regions of the United States. In general, bats seek out a variety of daytime retreats such as caves, rock crevices, old buildings, bridges, mines, and trees. Different species require different roost sites. Some species, such as the Mexican free-tailed and gray bats live in large...

### Why are bats important?

By eating insects, bats save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars per year in pest control. Some studies have estimated that service to be worth over $3.7 billion per year, and possibly as much as$53 billion. This value does not, however, take into account the volume of insects eaten by bats in forest ecosystems and the degree to which that...

### Are bats dangerous?

All healthy bats try to avoid humans by taking flight and are not purposely aggressive. Most bats are about the size of a mouse and use their small teeth and weak jaws to grind up insects. You should avoid handling bats because several species, such as the hoary and big brown bats, have large teeth that can puncture skin if they are handled...

### Do vampire bats really exist?

Yes, but not in most of the United States. Of the three species of vampire bats in North America, only a single specimen has been recorded for the United States in extreme southwest Texas. Vampire bats do not suck blood--they make a small incision with their sharp front teeth and lap up the blood with their tongue. Vampire bats in Mexico and South...

### Are bats blind?

No, bats are not blind. Bats have small eyes with very sensitive vision, which helps them see in conditions we might consider pitch black. They don’t have the sharp and colorful vision humans have, but they don’t need that. Think of bat vision as similar to a dark-adapted Mr. Magoo (a cartoon character with very poor vision). Learn more at the...

### How are bats affected by wind turbines?

Dead bats are found beneath wind turbines all over the world. It’s estimated that tens to hundreds of thousands die at wind turbines each year in North America alone. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear why this is happening. It’s possible that wind turbines interfere with seasonal migration and mating patterns in some species of bats. More than...

### What species of bats are affected by White-nose Syndrome?

White-nose Syndrome mostly affects hibernating bats. More than half of the 47 bat species living in the United States and Canada hibernate to survive the winter. Thirteen bat species, including two endangered species and one threatened species, have been confirmed with white-nose syndrome in North America. The causative fungus, Pseudogymnoascus...

### What should I do if I find dead or dying bats, or if I observe bats with signs of White-nose Syndrome?

If you find a dead or dying bat: Contact your state wildlife agency, file an electronic report in those states that offer this service, e-mail U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists in your area, or contact your nearest Fish and Wildlife Service field office to report your potential White-nose Syndrome (WNS) observations. It is important to...

### What is White-nose Syndrome?

White-nose syndrome is an emergent disease of hibernating bats that has spread from the northeastern to the central United States at an alarming rate. Since the winter of 2007-2008, millions of insect-eating bats in at least 33 states and seven Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus,...
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Date published: June 22, 2020

### It’s Pollinator Week!

Pollinators in the form of bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles provide vital but often invisible services, from supporting terrestrial wildlife and plant communities, to supporting healthy watersheds.

Date published: October 28, 2019

### Trick or Treat? The Frightening Threats to Bats

Date published: January 17, 2017

### A Deadly Double Punch: Together, Turbines and Disease Jeopardize Endangered Bats

Date published: March 31, 2011

### Bats Worth Billions to Agriculture: Pest-control Services at Risk

Pest-control services provided by insect-eating bats in the United States likely save the U.S. agricultural industry at least \$3 billion a year, and yet insectivorous bats are among the most overlooked economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America, according to an analysis published in this week’s Science magazine Policy Forum.

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September 26, 2019

### PubTalk 09/2019 — Bats in the West

Title: Bats in the West: Discoveries, Questions, and Future Research
By Gabriel A. Reyes, USGS Biologist

• Learn about bat ecology, diversity, and the role they play in our ecosystem.
• See how scientists are using a variety of methods including capture, acoustic monitoring, and tracking, to learn more about local bat species.
• Find out how
August 1, 2018

### Pallid bat with transmitter

A Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) is outfitted with a radio transmitter to help lead us to its roost. The transmitter is attached with a temporary adhesive that will wear off within around 2 weeks, about as long as the battery life of the transmitter lasts. By following the bat USGS researchers will be able to learn what habitat types are important for this species,

...
December 31, 2017

### Southeastern Bat with P. destructans Fungus

This southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius) from Alabama shows signs of infection from the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center later confirmed white-nose syndrome in this animal, marking the first time that WNS was found in a southeastern bat. As of June 2017, the species joins eight other

...
December 31, 2017

### Hibernating little brown bat

little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) with white-nose syndrome hibernating in a Virginia cave during late spring of 2016. Patches of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome can be seen growing out of the skin (white areas) near the nose and across the folded wing skin of this bat.  Spherical drops of water condensation coat the bat's outer fur, a

...
October 16, 2017

### Western red bat release

Like most wild animals, bats often don't appreciate being handled for research purposes. However when holding bats after handling and examination, they often appreciate the warmth and need a little push to go. This Western red bat (Lasiurus blossevillii) was captured during USGS WERC research to learn more about the ecology, distribution, and movement patterns of

...
March 2, 2017

### Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome

Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome

December 31, 2016

### Dissected bat guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body parts

Dissected guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.

December 19, 2016

### Mosquito, carrier of the Encephalitis virus

December 15, 2016

### Examples of Insect fragments from bat guano

Examples of Insect fragments belonging to ground beetles, water boatmen, click beetles, weevils, scarabs, and adult antlions identified from various dissected guano pellets of different studies.

December 15, 2016

### Allen's big-eared bat (Idionycteris phyllotis), an insectivore.

Allen's big-eared bat (Idionycteris phyllotis), an insectivore known from the southwestern United States.

October 26, 2016

A spotted bat.

June 27, 2016