Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly. There are more than 1400 different species with wingspans ranging from about 6 inches to almost 6 feet. Bats account for approximately 20% of all mammal species diversity. There are 46 species of bats in North America and Georgia is home to 16 of them. Forsyth County is within the range of 14 of these bat species.
Worldwide, bats contribute to the environment as pollinators, seed dispensers, and insect predators. All of the bats in Georgia are insectivores. Insectivorous bats can eat a quarter to a half of their body weight each night in mosquitoes, moths, and beetles that are pests to humans, animals, and agriculture. In 2011, bats ate enough insects in North America to save agriculture an estimated $3.7 billion. This economic benefit resulted from a reduction in crops lost to insect pests and a reduction in pesticides needed to control crop-damaging insects.
Bats are facing threats from habitat displacement, disease, and misplaced fear from humans. Nine of the 16 bat species in Georgia are listed as high priorities in our State Wildlife Action Plan.
The purpose of the Benefits of Bats project is to contribute to bat conservation efforts at the county and state level. Activities includes:
Documenting local bat populations over time
Encouraging the installation of bat houses and bat gardens to help offset habitat displacement
Providing educational outreach to increase knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of bats
Wildlife habitat displacement in our region will continue as our communities grow. However, with a little help, bats can continue to live among us in a mutually beneficial relationship.