Bats are the only native mammals in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As such, bats play a key role in the health of our environment. Bats are the only native mammals in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As such, bats play a key role in the health of our environment.
They are important pollinators for many of our favorite fruits, such as bananas and mangoes, and for night-blooming trees, like baobabs. Bats also are seed dispersers and play an key role in maintaining forests. In fact, they help plant trees after major disturbances like hurricanes. In addition to planting and pollinating, we rely heavily on bats for insect control. A single free tailed bat – the smallest bat in the VI – can eat 2,000 mosquito-sized insects in a night! This protects our health by reducing the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes, and supports agriculture by consumption of crop pests.
After hurricanes, the insect-eating bats usually have enough to eat, however, fruit eating bats have a very hard time finding food. You can help these bats survive by hanging fruit, such as bananas, to give them something to eat. Watch the Supporting Bats video to see how cool it is to watch bats feasting on bananas!
Hurricanes can also cause bats to lose their homes. Bats roost in large trees, caves, and even in some man-made structures. If their homes are destroyed during the hurricane, bats will be looking for new places to live — everywhere from fallen trees to the roofs of homes. Watch the video or see below for information about removing bats from your property.
BARREN SPOT BAT TOWER ON ST. CROIX
Barren Spot Bat Tower is protected by SEA and is home to many cave bats (Brachyphylla cavernarum). This species can be found throughout the Caribbean from Cuba to Barbados. They are fruit-eating bats and serve as key pollinators for native trees and fruit trees. Cave bats prefer to roost in natural structures, such as caves, but also like man-made structures, such as the old well tower in Barren Spot.
Why should we care about bats?
They are the only native mammal in the Virgin Islands.
Bats are a key part to our ecosystems. Benefits range from replanting our forests post-hurricane as seed dispersers to pollinating our favorite fruits to consuming insects that can cause damage to crops or spread disease to humans.
One bat can eat up to 2,000 mosquitoes in one night!
The recovery of bat populations after a hurricane really depends on the food sources that are available after a storm passes. Insect eaters do well as there are usually lots of insects after a hurricane. Meanwhile, fruit-eating bats tend to suffer as their food source is diminished after a storm. It is estimated that 20% of fruit eating bats in the Virgin Islands were lost after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP BATS RECOVER FROM STORMS? Post-hurricane:
Hang fruit from a tree branch (bananas work well; make sure it’s hanging and tied in a way that the bats fly right up to it).
Instead of clearing out all of the fallen trees, leave a couple for the bats to roost in at night and so they don’t have to travel too far to eat the fruit that you have hung.
Reduce pesticide use.
Plant native trees ahead of time (especially night-blooming flowers and fruit trees).
If you have bats in your roof or anywhere on your property:
DO NOT kill them, not only is it inhumane, but it’s against the law in the Virgin Islands
Instead, try the following things:
Look for information online about getting bats out of your house
Call USVI fish & wildlife: 340-772-1955
Or, if you are on St. Croix, you can contact SEA and we can give you some pointers: 340-773-1989 or email@example.com
WATCH OUR OTHER VIDEOS