How Many Mosquitoes Do Bats Eat? All Bat Diet Myths Busted

Deepthi Reddy
Mar 01, 2024 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Oct 23, 2021
The grey-headed flying fox.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

It is interesting to know that bats are the only mammals capable of flying!

Flying is energy-intensive and makes them eat a lot, so much so that they can eat up to 120% of their body weight. Insects are scared of bats since they heavily prey on insects.

In fact, the staple food of most of the species of bats is insects. Almost 70% of all bats eat only insects. Bats have different kinds of dietary habits. Megabats for example, live on fruit, pollen, nectar, and the like. Microbats eat insects and vertebrates. Fruit-eating bats need twice as much food as their body weight. 

Insect-eating bats catch them in several ways. They snatch them while they crawl on leaves, or catch flying insects. They feast on beetles, mosquitoes, moths, wasps, flies, and more! A large bat can eat a spider or gobble a scorpion too! It can eat while flying or pick it and carry it back to its roost.

Certain bats also eat fish or crustaceans along with insects. Their feet have long claws and webs, which are designed to catch fish from the water. Certain populations of bat species also eat vertebrates like toads, lizards, and frogs. Bats, like a spectral bats and ghost bats, also eat other types of bats! Some vampire bats are known to dine on blood. They prey on mammals like cattle and more.

Bats hibernate in winters in warmer environments and find different homes in the summer. With not many predators except owls, snakes, and hawks, the main threat of this animal is a disease called white-nose syndrome. It is a white fungal disease seen in the muscles and wings in bats when they hibernate. More than 6 million bats are known to have died due to this disease. It is best to avoid places like caves, underground, or any place where bats can hibernate. If you happen to be there, you need to decontaminate your footwear, clothing, and other gear.

Generally, healthy bats are small in size and not dangerous, and they avoid human beings. However, it’s a good idea to be on guard with large-sized bats, which have sharp teeth that can cut the human skin.

Some bats are known to have swimming skills. Though not as a regular feature, they can swim when necessary. For example, they swim in the water to save fruit that’s fallen in.

You can find more fun facts on our other Kidadl pages, like how many legs do butterflies have? And how long for duck eggs to hatch?

Do all bats eat mosquitoes?

Bat diet consists of insects and mosquitoes.

They are heavy eaters, and a single bat can consume almost 1,000-1,200 mosquitoes (or mosquito-sized insects) per hour. By eating insects and mosquitoes, bats help in pest control in a big way. Researchers have found that losing one million bats in northeast America has resulted in a massive increase of insects, up to 1,300 tons! Their contribution to U.S. agriculture is very significant, and these services are estimated to be worth up to half a billion dollars.

There are more than 1,400 species of bats across the world. Along with high flying, another unique feature of bats is being able to see in the dark. The combination of speed flying and night vision makes them brilliant hunters at night. They are well known for being speedy flyers. Their speed depends on the species. Science research has found that some species can fly up to 100 mph (161 kph)!

Almost 70% of bat species eat mosquitoes and insects, and generally, bats eat anything they catch. They locate insects and mosquitoes at night with a method called echolocation. Though bats do not have sharp vision like humans, they have night vision, coupled with an echo of waves, which aids in catching insects. This action might look like an erratic flight, but it’s a very effective way to catch mosquitoes and insects during the late evening or night hours.

Do bats control the mosquito population?

Bats are the most important predators for night insects. In America alone, 40 varieties of bats eat nothing but insects. A single little brown bat, which is no bigger than a human thumb, can eat approximately 0.1-0.3 oz (4-8 gm) of insects per night. This is almost the weight of one or two grapes.

Many people believe in the bat-mosquito myth that they are not helpful in mosquito control. Bat houses can be an excellent natural way to control mosquitoes. If you are interested in controlling mosquito populations in your house or backyard, one of the best natural solutions is to attract bats by keeping bat houses. A bachelor bat house can house about 20 bats. Mosquito populations in or around a house can be different from wildlife, and a small bat colony can be sufficient for mosquito control.

Here's a fun fact about bats' role in nature, did you know that there are bat populations in mega and microbats, which carry fruits? The Egyptian fruit bat and its Jamaican counterpart carry fruits like figs in an astonishing amount of weight almost equal to their own body. Many bat populations, have long tongues, and sip nectar from flowers. This phenomenon plays a significant role in pollination and spreads the pollen through their fur. Over 300 species of fruit depend on the bat population for pollination. Some main ingredients of chocolate, like nuts, cacao, and figs, are spread by bats. They also pollinate agaves, peaches, bananas, and nectarines.

How to use bats to control mosquitoes?

Generally, bats live in daytime retreats such as rock crevices, old buildings, trees, caves, and mines.

Based on seasons, they move to different homes called roosts. In summer, the females shift to maternity roosts to give birth to babies. Many bats move to hibernation roosts in winter, to protect themselves from bad weather. In the wild, colony living is most common for this animal.

Similar to cats, bats spend a lot of time cleaning and grooming themselves. They keep their fur sleek and neat, which also helps in controlling parasites. It is fascinating to know that colonial bats clean each other!

It is a good idea to use bats for mosquito control by having a bat-house in the back yard or garden of your house. Create a small habitat out of bat box, so that a colony of bats can reside. Most of the bat species consume mosquitoes and insects. So it really does not matter which bats we attract in our backyard. Since bats will eat fruits, having trees that bear fruits in the garden or back yard is a good way to attract bats too.

Bats hanging on a tree branch.

 

How many mosquitoes can a bat eat?

Not only mosquitoes but bats eat several other bugs too. In the wild, beetles, corn earworms, cucumber beetles, grasshoppers, moths, and flies, are all-natural prey for the bats, along with the majority of the insect population.

Mother bats feed breast milk to their baby bats, called pups. Pups do not eat insects. Mom bats form nursery colonies in spring to protect their pups in dead trees, crevices of rocks, or caves. Bats give birth to one pup every year.  

Bats catch mosquitoes and are heavy eaters. Each bat could consume from 600-1,o00 mosquitoes in just an hour. The little brown bat alone can consume insects equal to its weight in just one night. This could mean that a bat can eat up to 1,200 insects every hour.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! Did you like our suggestions for how many mosquitoes do bats eat? Then why not take a look at how many legs does a centipede have? Or vampire bats facts.

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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