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.

Learn more at the USGS North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) website.

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Why are bees important?

There are nearly 20,000 known bee species in the world, and 4,000 of them are native to the United States (an estimated 400 additional native bee species remain to be identified in the U.S.). From the tiny and solitary Perdita minima , known as the world’s smallest bee, to the large carpenter bee , to the brilliant blue of the mason bee; native...

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...

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...

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...
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Date published: October 23, 2017

Trick or Treat? The Frightening Threats to Bats

Written by Marisa Lubeck and Ethan Alpern

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. 

Filter Total Items: 22
Clustered southeastern bats
December 31, 2017

Clustered southeastern bats

This photo shows clustered southeastern bats, or Myotis austroriparius. As of June 2017, the species joins eight other hibernating bat species in North America that are afflicted with the deadly bat fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.

Hibernating little brown bat
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

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Dissected bat guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.
December 31, 2016

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

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

Scientists collecting bat location data
December 20, 2016

Scientists collecting bat location data

Recorded Bat Calls: Recorded 'echolocation' calls are later evaluated by computer programs and visual inspection to ascribe bat species identities.

Spectrograph of an acoustic recording from the western small-footed myotis (Myotis ciliolabrum) noting shape and frequency of ca
December 15, 2016

Spectrograph of an acoustic bat recording

Spectrograph of an acoustic recording from the western small-footed myotis (Myotis ciliolabrum) noting shape and frequency of call with photo of the western small-footed myotis and cartoon representation of this bat echolocating below.

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

 An Arizona bat or Occult bat (Myotis occultus) roost from southern Colorado
December 15, 2016

An Arizona bat or Occult bat (Myotis occultus) roost from southern CO

An Arizona bat or Occult bat (Myotis occultus) roost from southern Colorado.

Bat Colony
October 26, 2016

Bat Colony

While mother bats are out foraging, the young bats huddle together in groups that biologists call a cuddle.

Spotted Bat
October 26, 2016

Spotted Bat

A spotted bat.

an Indiana bat hanging on to a tree trunk
October 21, 2016

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

An Indiana bat hanging on to a tree. (Myotis sodalis)