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Are Bats On Their Way To Extinction?

September 16, 2015

Bat mortality in Massachusetts is on the rise according to experts. If things continue at their current pace, the little brown bat could be looking at extinction in less than a decade. The pathogen known as white-nose syndrome (WNS), which causes a very high mortality rate--up to as much as 100%--in bat colonies during hibernation, is threatening to do them all in.

If bats creep you out you're probably thinking this sounds like a pretty good deal. But bats actually have a beneficial role in nature. These furry little creatures of the night eat truckloads of mosquitoes. If we lose all those bats, we lose a significant ally in the war against mosquitoes. So, which one of these pests are worse to have around: bats or mosquitoes? That seems to be the question.

Bat Pests

It is never a good idea to have bats in your attic. These animals carry parasites in their fur and harmful bacteria in their guano (bat droppings). Bats are also one of the primary animals that transmit the rabies virus. When a bat is infected with rabies, it becomes more aggressive, biting nearby bats when they roost and also biting humans and pet animals.

Mosquito Pests

These pests are known carriers of many harmful viruses that can kill (though fatalities are drastically lower in the United States, where mosquito abatement is widely practiced by municipalities, including Massachusetts.) But, infections do happen and the sickness that results can be extremely uncomfortable and even life-threatening. As incidents of these viruses climb, the risks rise as well.

Is the world better without the little brown bat?

There certainly would be fewer cases of rabies in the state if bats went extinct, but this is not the ideal goal. Mosquito abatement is a tremendous task and those little brown bats have a big role to play. If we lose the bats, mosquitoes would definitely be harder to control.

The goal of effective pest management is not always to eradicate. Sure, if you have a house full of bed bugs, we're not going to relocate them. We'll kill every last one. But, often, the best course of action is to control where the bug or animal is allowed to be. Bats are beneficial in the woods around your home and pose very little threat to you or your family. The goal of pest control is to make sure those bats don't get into your house, garage, or outbuildings, where they can pose a greater threat.

If you have bats on your property, call the bat experts at Big Blue Bug. We'll help you keep those bats where they can do some good.