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 benefits industries like lumber. It also doesn’t take into account the critical importance of bats as plant and crop pollinators. So the actual monetary worth of bats is far greater than $3.7 billion per year.

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Bats benefit from maintaining a close-knit roosting group.
December 31, 2015

Colony of bats.

Bats benefit from maintaining a close-knit roosting group because they increase reproductive success and it is important for rearing pups.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Bats emerging from the trees in the early evening sky.
December 31, 2014

Bat emergence, Paul Cryan, USGS photo.

Bats emerging from the trees in the early evening sky.

Bat hanging from a cave ceiling
September 24, 2012

Bat Hanging from Cave Ceiling

A healthy, banded little brown bat hangs out in a cave. Photo credit: Paul Cryan, USGS.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Northern Long-eared Bat
May 31, 2012

Northern Long-eared Bat

USGS and Virginia Tech scientists captured female northern bats and fitted them with tiny radiotransmitters and numbered armbands. The bats were then released and tracked to determine what roosts they were using. 

Attribution: Ecosystems
video thumbnail: Bat White-nose Syndrome: There is a New Fungus Among Us By Dr. David Blehert
March 10, 2012

Bat White-nose Syndrome: There is a New Fungus Among Us By Dr. David Blehert

Since first discovered in 2007 in New York, white-nose syndrome has spread to 16 states, including Virginia and Maryland, and four Canadian provinces. The disease is estimated to have killed over five million hibernating bats. An outbreak of infectious disease among bats on the order of white-nose syndrome is without precedent, and although insect-feeding wild bats may

Attribution: Ecosystems
USGS CoreCast
March 30, 2011

Beyond Billions: Threatened Bats are Worth Billions to Agriculture

Insect-eating bats provide pest-control services that save the U.S. agriculture industry over $3 billion per year, according to a study released today in the journal Science. However, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Pretoria in South Africa, University of Tennessee, and Boston University who contributed to the study warn that these valuable

Image: Bats in a Texas Evening Sky
May 1, 2009

Bats in a Texas Evening Sky

Insect-eating Brazilian Free-Tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) provide a great pest-control service to agriculture and natural ecosystems.

Image: Bat with Radio Transmitter

Bat with Radio Transmitter

USGS biologist Paul Cryan releases a bat carrying a miniature radio transmitter. Researchers are increasingly turning to high-tech methods to try to learn more about the mysterious lives of bats.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Bat Colony

Bat Colony

This image shows a colony of adult southeastern myotis bats. This bat species is susceptible to the deadly bat fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.

Image: Side View of Insect-Eating Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum) in New Mexico

Side View of Insect-Eating Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum) in New Mexico

This spotted bat, native to western North America, is a hibernating insect-eating bat that may be at risk as the disease white-nose syndrome moves westward.