Gov. Herbert declares bat week in Utah; 13 facts about this unique pollinator

Close up of a Myotis evotis bat's head, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With Halloween just around the corner, Utahns are acknowledging one of the world’s more unique pollinators.

Color Country Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution members with the signed proclamation at the pollinator garden they are sponsoring at Red Hills Desert Garden, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Valerie King, Color Country Chapter, St. George News

Sue McElhaney, conservation chairwoman for the Color Country Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, took the initiative to write to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert explaining the importance of bats and the significant role they play in our ecosystem. In response, he issued a proclamation observing Oct. 24-31 as National Bat Week throughout the state of Utah. In the letter, McElhaney stated:

Their (bats’) actions save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars each year in pest control and reduce the spread of dangerous viruses carried by mosquitoes. Bats are essential in helping control insects in our forests and on our farms. Their protection requires national appreciation and cooperation. … They are not to be feared as blood sucking evil creatures, but instead to be honored for the tremendous good that they do.

And it worked. In the proclamation, Herbert recognizes the ecological services the creatures provide to the U.S. ecosystem. The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management and the Wildlife Conservation Society are just a few of the organizations who participate in this annual celebration.

In a related effort, earlier this year, DAR unveiled their 2018-19 conservation initiative called the “Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.” This initiative was launched to bring awareness to the more than 75 percent of the world’s plants relying on bats and other pollinators to set seed and reproduce.

Important food crops for people, livestock and wildlife greatly depend on these pollinators. DAR chapter members across the country were asked to establish gardens using plants that specifically promote pollination. The Color Country Chapter took this initiative to heart by sponsoring a pollinator garden at Red Hills Desert Garden.

13 awe-inspiring facts about bats

  • There are over 1300 species of bats worldwide; they can be found on nearly every part of the planet except extreme desert and polar regions.
  • Without bats, say goodbye to bananas, avocados and mangoes, to name just a few. Over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination.
  • About 80 medicines come from plants that rely on bats for their survival. Studying bats has helped scientists develop navigational aids for the blind; also advances in vaccines.
  • Even though bears and bats are the two most well-known hibernators, not all bats spend their winters in caves. Some migrate in search of food to warmer areas when it gets chilly.
  • Bats have few natural predators; disease is one of the biggest threats. Owls, hawks and snakes eat bats, but millions are actually dying from a fungal disease called White-Nose Syndrome.
  • Insects have the most to fear from bats. Bats can eat their body weight or more in insects in just a single night.
  • Bats are the only flying mammal.
  • Bats are small but very fast creatures, reaching over 100 mph according to new research.
  • Conservation efforts are helping bat species recover. At least 13 types of U.S. bats are endangered, and more are threatened because of habitat loss and disease.
  • The longest-living bat is 41 years old.
  • Like cats, bats spend a lot of time grooming themselves.
  • Baby bats are called pups. Mother bats feed their pups breast milk, not insects.
  • Like humans, bats have belly buttons too.

For more information on bats, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • KR567 October 25, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    LOL…..really ? bats are a very important part of the eco system. when you have time. go to your local library and do some research. …but I got to stop and laugh at your idiotic statement that nobody reads St George news because of the ugly pictures they put up ! HAHAHA …oh my you need a hobby

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