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Discovery Magazine 10/1/2000

How Helpful Can Bats Really Be?

Even though bats are not the prettiest animals in the world, and even though some of them feed on our livestock, many bats really are very helpful.

That’s right, bats do many things that help people and the environment. One of their most helpful jobs is eating insects. I suspect you did not know that the little brown bat can eat 600 mosquitoes in one hour! In fact, there is one colony of bats in the state of Texas that eats 256,000 pounds of insects every night. The weight of that many insects is the same as 23 Asian elephants. Just think how many insects there would be if the bats did not eat them. When you see a bat flying around in your backyard or near a street lamp, he probably is eating mosquitoes. If he eats them, that means they cannot bite you, and fewer mosquito bites mean less itching, less disease, and more fun.

Not only do bats eat mosquitoes that bug everyone, but they also eat bugs and worms that affect farmers’ crops. A colony of just 150 big brown bats can eat 18 million rootworms in one summer. These worms kill crops if the bats don’t eat them. Since farmers can grow more crops, the price goes down and more people get to eat good food at cheaper prices.

Besides eating bugs, some bats may help scientists create new medicines. The saliva of the vampire bat has a special chemical called an anticoagulant that keeps blood from clotting. This chemical is much stronger than the medicines scientists have created so far. Research on the bat’s saliva may one day give us a medicine that helps people with heart problems.

Another helpful thing that bats do is pollinate flowers and trees. Many nut, date, fig, and banana crops benefit from bats dropping seeds or carrying pollen from one tree to another.

God designed the Universe so that things have a purpose. Bats eat insects, pollinate plants, and help scientists create new medicines. As human beings, our purpose is to fear the Lord, keep His commandments, and teach other people about Him and His Son Jesus (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Let’s all do our jobs so that God will be proud of us.



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