The benefits of the insect-eaters


Bats are worth $3.7bn to US agriculture

Amid concerns over the impact of disease and wind farms on bats, researchers are working to quantify the ecosystem benefits of the insect-eaters


Modern threats to bats have both bat lovers and farmers concerned. Photograph: Liam Driver/Rex Features

 California almond grower Glenn Anderson never paid much attention to the bats in his barn, or in his orchard, before the non-profit Bat Conservancy of Coastal California showed up in his part of the Central Valley a few years ago offering farmers bat houses.

The small layered structures provide shelter and breeding areas for bats. Anderson says he was happy to put a few up around his property, but it took a few years for the bats to show any interest. It wasn’t until several of his neighbours began planting corn that they seemed to move in for good.

“That made sense because corn is a good habitat for mosquitoes and bats like to eat mosquitoes,” Anderson says. “But then I got to wondering whether they were eating moths, too.” Read more.