2017-08-10 / News

Great Bat Misconceptions and More to be Revealed at For-Mar

BY TANYA TERRY

810-452-2645 * tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — Bats are creatures of the night that have been made into superheroes and vampires. They are also interesting to people because they are the only mammal that can fly. According to staff at For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum there is much about bats the general public is not aware of.

“Bats also use of echolocation to find their prey,” said Nicole Ferguson, park naturalist at For-Mar. “Echolocation is the use of sound waves bouncing off their prey to locate their food at night. These features are just a few of the amazing features that make bats so intriguing.”

Ferguson said even the vampire bat, found outside of Michigan, does not suck blood.

Tom Esper, who will lead the August 17 Bat Walk at For-Mar from 8:15-9:15 p.m., said he hopes the walk will open people’s eyes to the truth about bats.

“Bats don't get into peoples' hair,” Esper said.

Ferguson said Michigan bats help people because they eat many different types of insects including moths, flies, beetles and mosquitos.

“They can eat as many as 600 to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects per hour,” she said. “That's lots of insects!”

According to Ferguson, there are several different calls bats use.

“We use a bat detector to hear them because the calls they make are not able to be heard by humans,” she said.

Bats often roost in the trees or open cavities during the day and come out at night to feed.

For-Mar is a suitable place for bats because it has both forested and grassland habitats.  There are also several water sources that are needed for the bats and are great breeding grounds for the insects they eat. 

In fact, Esper said there is an 100 percent chance people will see bats during the Bat Walk.

Because of the myths, people have a fear of bats and rabies.

Esper said people should be not afraid at all, however.

“Bats don't want anything to do with people,” he said.

The largest threat to the bat populations is white nose syndrome. This is a deadly disease affecting bats primarily during hibernation.

Esper said great horned owls, raccoons, and snakes are also threats.

Esper is a high school science teacher, naturalist and avid birder.  He also leads the Citizen Science programs at For-Mar centered around butterflies and bats.  He will lead five bat walks in different Genesee County Parks this summer.

Bat walks are held at For-Mar monthly during June, July and August.

For-Mar is a great place to go for a walk at night with an environmental educator,” Esper said. “Dispelling myths of bats is one of the goals of the Bat Walk.”

“This is a great opportunity to learn about bats and get to enjoy being outdoors at night and learning about nature,” Ferguson said. “Also, the more we learn about bats and the outdoor world, the more we will take care of it.” 

There is no cost to participate in the Bat Walk, and preregistration is not required.

 

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