October 19, 2019
AcroBATics on Little St. Simons Island
Posted by: John Cassell
What did the bat researchers say to the bats flying around our pool? Lets’ hang out together! Ok, jokes aside, bats are an important animal to research here in the Georgia coast. Lacking caves, these fury mammals use the forest trees to sleep in the day, hide from potential predators, and stay warm come winter. While we have an ideal guess of where they can be found on the islands, scientists still lack baseline knowledge of how humans impact Georgia bats.
Introducing Trina Morris. She is the GADNR expert on all things bats. For years her team has travelled through the various counties of Georgia looking to get baseline knowledge on these bats. What species can be found in this county? What is the male-female ratio? Do they have any diseases? What is their average weight? To get these answers she uses a sophisticated net. On a pleasant night in August the bat researchers hung a large mist net over our pool, and in a few hours, they caught over a dozen individuals to collect data from, and our guests were able to observe!
The two species found were Evening bats and Seminole bats. Both are insectivores, having them in your backyards means free mosquito control. Seminole bats are also known to tuck into the Spanish moss and wrap themselves up like in a personal sleeping bag. In two nights the team caught a total of 64 bats, none of them showing signs of White-nose syndrome (WNS). This fungus is responsible for killing many bats that roost in caves, including some populations here in Georgia. While Trina hasn’t found any sick bats for Glynn County it is still important that researchers monitor areas to help understand how diseases can spread.
So, what can we do to help bat populations in Georgia? There are a few good ideas. With Halloween around the corner, using silly string and felt spider webs look fun, but bats can get tangled in them. Try using decorations that won’t tangle wildlife this year. If you see or hear bats in your fireplace or attic call an expert to safely remove them from your house. Finally, while many areas spray for bugs it is vital that green and eco-friendly options are used. Insects contaminated by pesticides have been link to issues for predators that feed on them, like bats.
Learn more about WNS here: https://www.nps.gov/articles/what-is-white-nose-syndrome.htm