Arizona is home to twenty-eight species of bats, the second greatest number of bat species in the United States, just behind Texas. Bats are the only true flying mammals and are valuable human allies. Arizona bats are often seen as they flutter in deep evening skies as little brown wonders, pollinating native flora and keeping the insect populations in check.
Arizona Bat Species
Of Arizona’s twenty-eight species, only two are nectar/pollen eaters, essential to the pollination of Saguaro cactus and many types of agaves. They zip from bloom to bloom like oversized bees working the graveyard shift, poking their heads into flowers and transporting tiny vital spores on their fur. These bats also ingest seeds which are later disseminated in their droppings.
The other twenty-six species dine exclusively on bugs, with colonies consuming thousands of insects per night. Small brown bats are the most common group found in Arizona and play a major role in managing insect populations. These insectivores have well-developed ears and tiny eyes. They can see, but mainly rely on their ability to echolocate; using reverberating sound waves to get a 3-D sense of their environment (similar to the process used by dolphins).
Bats utilize a variety of techniques to catch prey. Our smallest bat – the Western pipistrelle – is an aerial-eater, seizing flying insects on the wing. The California leaf-nosed bat can actually hover in flight, gleaning insects and larva from vegetation. And some bats prefer ground crawlers, like the unique Pallid bat who is notorious for munching scorpions, unharmed.
Arizona Bats; Friend or Foe
Arizona Bats are beneficial vertebrates because they eat many flying insects that we consider pests. For example, bats consume mosquitoes…a lot of them. Some estimates claim a bat can consume up to 4500 mosquitoes in one evening. Regardless, a bat can turn into a pest when they seek shelter in our homes. Bats do create quite a mess with their feces, resulting in staining, odor, and disease concern. By addressing these hiding spots on the structure we are able to prevent Arizona bats from invading your home.
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