Bats are the quintessential creatures of the night. From ancient mythology to modern pop culture, the winged mammals have long captured our imaginations and inhabited our deepest nightmares.
But bats have a vital role to play in the success of local economies as free pest-control providers, according to research by University of Arizona scientist Laura López-Hoffman, assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, part of UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Contrary to what Halloween movies might lead you to believe, only three out of about 1,240 known bat species feed on blood. Most dine on insects, and among them is the Mexican free-tailed bat, which migrates between the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. This species alone, it turns out, has saved cotton farmers across the region millions of dollars in crop damage and insecticide costs by voraciously consuming the six-legged pests.