Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Nature Watch: "Bats"


Last updated 6/13/2022 at 12:24pm

Townsend's Big-Eared Bat at Palm Canyon Trailhead Pond.

As summer heat reaches triple digits, desert residents and visitors typically move their outdoor activities to evenings or after dark.

In those fleeting moments of waning daylight, or in the glow of artificial lights, the observant nature lover may get a brief glimpse of something darting quickly by in the indigo night sky.

As your day is ending, these winged mammals are taking flight, not because of the heat, but to feed on swarming insects now on the wing.

While bats suffer from a bad reputation, they are actually quite beneficial as well as fascinating creatures.

Of the 22 bat species found in San Diego, all feed on insects, moths, and scorpions. None are blood suckers.

Like any mammal, bats can carry rabies, but are not more susceptible than any other species.

Their most important task is to keep insects in check, consuming up to 1,200 nightly, including pesky mosquitoes.

Bats are also fascinating because of their ability to fly rapidly in total darkness to capture game, while avoiding obstacles.

These winged mammals can fly at speeds of 60 miles an hour, and because of a sophisticated echolocation sonar-type system they can avoid something as small as a human hair. This lets them fly just inches above ponds or small sources of water and snatch insects from the air in total darkness.

Bats have been around a long time, with fossil records from over 50 million years ago confirming their presence.

Worldwide, there are about 1,300 bat species, ranging in size from a small cat to the tiny bumblebee bat.

When you go out for that evening walk, keep an eye out for the bat flashing by and be glad they are there keeping mosquitos and insects in balance.

Read more of Ernie's work. "There's a Marmot in My Pack," available at Amazon Books.

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