This is the time of year where bats often get a bad rap and are mistaken for vicious blood sucking creatures. An old Halloween lore, unless of course you are the larvae of a corn earworm moth.
Corn earworm moths and their larvae can devastate corn, tomatoes, and cotton crops. But a recent study was just released showing the enormous benefits bats provide in pest control, especially for corn. This study looked at the bat predation of the corn earworm larvae in Illinois.
It found that the fields where bats were not permitted had 60% more earworm larvae and 50% more fungi, likely introduced by the larvae.
In total, bats boosted corn crop yield by 1.4%, which worldwide equates to more than $1 billion in service to corn growers.
Another study in California found that bats living on and near farms, were feeding on multiple agricultural pests, providing a much needed benefit for the area farmers as pest control.
Not so spooky after all.
These studies highlight the importance of providing habitat on the farm for bats, but we know that there are many other species and practices that also provide critical ecosystem services for farms.
Wild Farm Alliance is working hard to provide effective technical resources for farmers on just how to implement these practices, such as establishing bat habitat, on farms to increase biodiversity and help farmers work with nature to ensure the integrity of our agricultural lands for future generations.
In the next few months we will be releasing the second edition of our Biodiversity Guide that outlines ways for farmers to increase wildlife and native plant habitat, even for spooky creatures like bats. Stay tuned for the release of this new and improved publication.
Photo credit: Ann Froschauer / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service