August 4th, 2016 by Jake Richardson
The last new mammal to Minnesota was identified in 1991—a shrew species. Now there is another, the evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis). It was found this summer during a survey of Minnesota’s forest bats, which was focused on their mating habits. DNR Nongame Wildlife Program and Central Lakes College researchers conducted the survey.
“It’s very exciting to discover a new bat species in the state. The evening bat’s historic range is limited to central Iowa. As our project proceeds, we’ll be keeping an eye out for more evening bats. For now, we don’t know if this was an isolated individual blown north in a storm, or if this species has indeed expanded its range into Minnesota,” explained DNR employee Rich Baker.
Some people might fear bats, and others might not like them much. However, bats eat vast quantities of insects, so they can be of benefit to us. Also, several hundred species of fruit are pollinated by bats, and without the bats, we wouldn’t have as much fruit to eat. Do you like bananas, mangos or guava? These fruits come from plants which are pollinated by bats, “The Agave plant and the Saguaro, state cactus of Arizona, also depend upon bats for pollination. The agave is an important plant because it is used to make tequila.”
Did you know that bats do something which is very beneficial to humans? They could be appreciated better by us. Bats in North America may need our help, “They both know that somewhere in this cave, even on these bats, may lie spores of the fungus Geomyces destructans, which is devastating hibernating bat populations in the Northeastern United States. The fungus appears to be the cause of a disease called white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than a million bats in the past four years. It even threatens some of the continent’s most abundant bat species with extinction.”
Image Credit: Public domain, the bat pictured above is not the exact one which was captured in Minnesota.
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