Imagine neighbors who are nearly silent and invisible, who are dedicated to family, and who fly nightly over your yard to eat hundreds of villainous mosquitoes. Great neighbors like these can only be bats.
Misconceptions about bats abound. Bats are not “flying rats.” They are not even rodents. But like rodents, they are warm-blooded mammals who nurse their young. Wisconsin bats do not feed on blood. They eat flying insects, including those bloodsucking mosquitoes that haunt our otherwise perfect summer nights.
Five species of bats are commonly found in Wisconsin. Some Wisconsin bats live and hibernate in caves, but others roost in forested areas and migrate south for the winter. Either way, bats will do everything they can to avoid human contact. Unless you pose a danger to them, Wisconsin bats will not fly at you, much less get tangled in your hair. A very special fact about bats: they are the only mammals that can fly. Putting up a bat house such as the one shown here can not only help bats but could attract a family of fine neighbors. Those precious summer nights in the yard could hold more time relaxing and less time swatting. Nothing scary about that.
Like most native mammals, populations of Wisconsin bats are diminished by loss of habitat and disease.
Elizabeth G Fagan is a writer and artist who resides in southeastern Wisconsin—a place she calls Lake Michigan’s Left Coast. She’s endured the curse of being a writer since attending a private arts high school in Connecticut, where the bad habit was encouraged. She also became a photographer at that high school. She spent all the time she could in the school’s darkroom, creating black and white images from film. Alas, a second bad habit acquired.
Fagan is passionate about the natural world and its creatures. She highly recommends the work of Chicago-based nature photographer Mark Swanson.
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