Text: Hometown Heroes of the Back Yard

In 2015–16, Elizabeth G Fagan wrote the monthly column “Green Talk” for the Ozaukee County News Graphic on behalf of Mequon Nature Preserve. Fagan’s experience as a professional writer spans more than 30 years. She frequently took the photos accompanying her “Green Talk” columns.

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July

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.

July 2015 Green Talk by Elizabeth Fagan
July 2015 Green Talk by Elizabeth Fagan

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 Fagan, Lake Michigans Left Coast
Elizabeth Fagan, Lake Michigan’s Left Coast

Elizabeth G Fagan is an artist, photographer, and writer. A former Chicagoan, Fagan resides in southeastern Wisconsin. She calls her place in the world Lake Michigan’s Left Coast.

Fagan attended The Hammonasset School, a private arts high school in Connecticut, where she began writing and taking photographs. She earned a BA in English at Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa) and the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). She has an MA in Linguistics with a specialization in teaching English as a second language (ESL) from UIC. Fagan later gained an associate degree in Web Development from Chicago’s DePaul University. As an editor at Rand McNally, Fagan edited and authored an award-winning series of atlases.

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