Bats, belonging to the order Chiroptera are the only living flying mammals in the world. Bats are nocturnal beings that use echolocation to capture their prey. They have heightened auditory senses that enable them to capture their prey even in the pitch dark. Bats feed on a wide range of foods like insects, fruits, nectar, small rodents, lizards, and sometimes also meat and blood. In this post, we have focused the lights on insect-eating bats and What insects do bats eat?
To answer the question, bats feed on a large spectrum of insects that fly at night. They spend the night flying, foraging for insects, and catching them mid-air. It includes mosquitoes, large flies, moths, crickets, beetles, and other flying bugs that buzz around at night.
Later in this article, “What do Bats eat,” we are going to discuss in detail bats’ insectivore diet. So without further ado, let’s get going with his article.
What Insects do Bats Eat?
Among the three categories of bats, namely microbats, megabats, and vampire bats, it’s microbats that feed on insects. Microbats are equipped with large sensitive ears that give them a heightened sense of hearing.
Echolocation is what bats use to spot their prey. Bats emit high-pitched sounds, which go on hitting the insect or obstacle and bounce back.
By calculating the time takes, bats can accurately estimate the insect’s actual position and quickly grab them in the air. Using their tail membranes or wings, bats capture their prey and then transfer it to their mouth, all while being airborne.
Bats that reside in buildings and chimneys in residential feed on insects that are prevalent there, such as mosquitoes, flies, and moths.
Many insects gather around street lights, serving as essential foraging locations for bats. Many insects come out at night in agricultural areas and trees and hence become essential locations for bats.
The most prevalent type of bat in the United States feeds on mosquitoes; those annoying little insects drain our blood, leaving itchy red bumps.
Additionally, some of their other primary sources of nutrition are true bugs and beetles, the majority of which are major agricultural pests.
These include leaf-hoppers, green and brown stinkbugs, may beetles or June bugs (family Scarabaeidae) and cucumber beetles (genus Diabrotica, family Chrysomelidae), and stinkbugs (Cicadellidae).
They also consume many other insects, including moths, crickets, and other beetles, which are particularly harmful to our crops. A natural and organic method of pest management is using bats.
How many insects (bugs) do bats eat?
Bats eat billions of insects each day. Though the number seems huge, which it is, it is not difficult to estimate. Let us take an example of a city, Bracken Cave, in Texas. Like any other place, it also houses a large bat population, which is estimated to be nearly 20 million.
The bat species in consideration is the Mexican free-tail bats, which on average, consume 10 gm of insects in one night. Now, by applying simple mathematics, the whole colony can finish nearly 220 tones of insects.
Billions of insects together will be required to make up this number, which amounts to the weight of almost 53 elephants.
So now you get an idea of how many insects bats eat. You might be wondering how insects are still prevalent in this world, right? Well, insects have a very high reproduction rate.
An adult female mosquito that lays nearly 200 eggs may result in 100,000,000 mosquitoes in just one month. Keeping the immeasurable number of mosquitoes in mind, bats do a great job of keeping the insect population in check.
In One Night:
Insects are small creatures but are considered quite nutritious. To make up for it, a bat must consume a lot of bugs to meet its nutritional requirements.
Continuous flying at night is high energy-consuming activity. Apart from this, they also need energy to maintain their body temperature as they are warm-blooded animals like other mammals.
Over 3,000 small insects can be consumed by a common pipistrelle in a single night. Some small bats are capable of catching 1,000 or more tiny insects in a single hour, according to scientists.
Mother bats nursing their young ones consume the most food; on occasion, she will capture almost 4,000 insects in a single night. Little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) finish off approximately 600 mosquitoes each night.
How often do bats eat insects?
Bats have a huge appetite, as flying is an energy-consuming process. Therefore, they must consume food daily to keep up with their energy requirements. At night between dusk and daybreak, at night, is when bats are most active. Bat activity increases in the hours before nightfall.
After beginning to fly around their nesting place for some time, they will eventually depart in search of food and water. Normally, bats will eat for an hour or two, then rest before eating again just before dawn. They normally have two feeding trips at night, lasting about two hours each.
Now we come to the end of this article, What Insects do Bats eat? Hope this has cleared all your doubts regarding the feeding habits of insectivorous bats. We will be returning soon with many other articles on bats, so until then, stay tuned on this website.
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A zoology student turned writer. Nature has always been a magnet to me, and to unearth some of its secrets through my articles is my prime intention. If not engaging myself with nature and anime content, you can always find me going through some Bengali classics or filling the air with some soulful Tabla beats. An artist, trying to throw some colors to my blank canvas of life.