- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
California is in the middle of the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south flyway for migratory birds, and also bats, that extends from Alaska to South America.
“Every autumn, migratory bats, such as the Mexican free-tailed bats, travel to their overwintering grounds in Southern California and Mexico, where there's plenty of bugs to eat; they come back each spring to raise their families,” said Rachael Long, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor who studies bats.
Bats are beneficial because they feed on insects, including mosquitoes and pests such as codling moths that damage fruit and nut crops. The
Bats are voracious predators of night-flying insects that target California crops. Research statistics show that a pregnant or nursing female can consume as much as two-thirds of her body weight in insects per night. That's somewhat like a 150-pound man eating 100 pounds of food per day.
What's the economic value of bats to the agricultural pest control? It probably exceeds $23 billion per year, according to recent studies. However, very little data exists on the benefits of bats for individual crops, such as walnuts.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers, together with UC Davis, are launching a survey to better understand the value of bats (and birds) on managed lands. The...
- Author: Ann King Filmer
Put together a group of hard-working, do-good college students who care about environmental issues, and you end up with a really “Wild Campus.” At UC Davis, students formed the student-run Wild Campus organization two years ago to conserve wildlife in the greater UC Davis area.
Working with campus experts (such as faculty and staff in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology) and local environmental and conservation organizations, the volunteer students are improving the habitats for local wildlife and engaging the public in hands-on activities.
This is an extraordinary program that gives the students...
- Author: Rachael Freeman Long
The arrival of spring heralds the return of bats to California’s Central Valley. Every year, hundreds of thousands migrate to this area. Some come from local areas where they hibernate; others species travel over 1,000 miles from their southern overwintering grounds. How bats find their way home is still a mystery, but studies on bat migration suggest they use a combination of factors such as the earth’s magnetic field, stars and landscapes. Many bat species return to where they were born, and then have their own young pups, just like salmon finding their way up rivers, to spawn where they hatched.
California is home to 25 species of bats. All are insectivorous, with the exception of two species in the Southern California...
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
White-nose syndrome, a horrific disease that has killed millions of bats on the East Coast since its identification in 2006, is spreading fast across the United States, warns Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Yolo County. She dreads its arrival in California.
This disease is caused by a fungus that grows most noticeably on a bat’s muzzle, coating it in a white powder, hence the name "white-nose." It primarily affects hibernating bats by causing them to be more active, according to Long.
"As a result they wake up more often during the winter, burn up fat reserves, and die of starvation," Long said. Where the disease is occurring,...