There’s a great scene in Christopher Nolan’s first Batman movie – Batman Begins. Bruce Wayne is talking about being a symbol that will strike fear into the hearts of the evil men of Gotham. And his loyal friend and mentor Alfred inquires, “Why bats, Master Wayne?” Bruce replies, “Bats frighten me. It’s time my enemies share my dread.” He’s remembering the scene early in the film when he falls into an underground cavern filled with bats.
But Bruce Wayne – and criminals – aren’t alone. While most people don’t suffer from full-blown Chiroptophobia, we do see them as odd, creepy or, yes, dreadful. We worry that they have a disease or will bite us and suck our blood.
The oldest stories of evil bats date back to the Mayan culture. Their ‘death bat god’ was named Camazotz and was unsettling enough that Madeleine L’Engle borrowed the name for the source of evil in her Wrinkle in Time books. Camazotz also has a brief cameo in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Of course, we all know the legend of Bram Stoker’s famous vampire – and he drew on some of the oldest European myths of such creatures capable of shape shifting into bats.
Part of the perception, we are sure, comes from people referring to bats as flying mice – but in many ways bats are closer to humans than they are to rodents. And their nocturnal nature doesn’t help either – we learn early to fear things that move around at night.
A Bat Rap
Despite all the bad press bats get, they’re actually helpful to humans. Just ask anyone in Texas. People complain about mosquitoes here in Florida – but they’re much worse in the Lone Star State. Or they would be if the thousands of bats that live there didn’t eat more than their weight in the true blood suckers every night. The famous Congress Bridge bats in Austin consume some 20-30 thousand pounds of insects on each night flight.
Bats also help us with food production. Bananas, avocadoes, dates, mangoes and the Agave sweetener some folks like to put in their coffee, along with some 700 other plants, are all pollinated by bats.
Vampire bat saliva is a key ingredient in Draculin, a drug that helps blood flow in people who’ve suffered strokes. And bat DNA may be the key to solving some of the long-term issues with malaria.
In addition to pollination, bats help disperse trees and other plants, especially in the Amazon rain forests. The bats eat the fruit, and as they range far and wide across the land, they poop out the seeds in new places.
And speaking of poop – bat guano is a fantastic natural fertilizer! You can even buy it for your gardening needs!
It’s no wonder bats get granted some protected status as a valuable, but endangered, species in many states.
Mother May I?
Today, April 15, is the first day of Bat Maternity Season in Florida. That means until August 15th if you encounter a bat in your home or office, or anywhere on your property, you have to leave them be. They’re even protected outside of their gestation time.
Pest control professionals don’t eliminate bats, we exclude them – which means we use humane methods to relocate the bats. But, again, even that is suspended for the next four months. It’s just too dangerous for the mothers and their offspring to move them during this time.
Hopefully, you now see the beauty of having bats around, serving us in their own way. Much better than the mosquitoes that we love to hate, although mosquitoes have their place in God’s ecosystem plan for our earth too. That’s why we use our exclusive Mosquito Protection Program to turn the biting momma mosquitoes into vegans.