Bats are extremely important to the Virgin Islands. We have five species of bats in the VI: three fruit eating bats, one insectivore, and one fish eater. The fruit-eating bats are significant pollinators of commercially important fruit like mangos, breadfruit, bananas, guavas, avocados, soursop, and almonds, plus they are important seed dispersers for native trees like guavaberry. The insect-eating velvety free-tailed bat is key for pest control; a single bat can eat up to a thousand mosquito-sized insects in a single night! Studies in agricultural areas have shown that bats are more effective (and cheaper) at controlling crop-eating pests than chemical pesticides.
Most of the frightening myths about bats are untrue. They do not become tangled in your hair although they are curious and may swoop close to get a look at what’s going on or to catch an insect hovering around your head. They are not blind; in fact they have good eyesight and also use sonar to locate prey and navigate through complex habitats in the dark. Bats in the Virgin Islands do not carry rabies and none of the five species of bats found here are blood eaters. There are only three species of vampire bats in the world and all are found in Central and South America.
Some other fun facts about bats:
Bats are the only mammal native to the Virgin Islands.
Bats have been around for 50 million years.
There are around 1,000 different species of bats.
Bats have good eyesight.
Bats can live for 20 years, or even 40.
Bat guano is the richest natural fertilizer known.
Bats hunt and navigate using echo-location.
Bats are the only mammal that can fly.
Join SEA this Friday, October 26, at 5:30 for Bat Night at the Barren Spot Bat Tower. Learn all about the bats on St. Croix, see Cave Bats (Brachyphyllum cavernarum) emerge from their well tower roost, and learn what you can do to help these valuable pollinators and mosquito eaters! Wear sturdy shoes and long pants to protect from insects. This event is free for SEA members and children; $10 for non-members. Call (340) 773-1989 or email email@example.com for information. Costumes encouraged!