The bat landed on my pillow.
And needless to say, we four teenage girls broke out in a chorus of screams that would have made Hollywood proud. We were spending the night in our Northwoods cabin’s “guest house,” a single room attached to an old log garage with plenty of cracks for bats and other critters to gather.
So, when our bat friend decided to join our slumber party with some acrobatic flybys, we did our screaming best to make him leave. It is a miracle we did not scare him to death, which is probably why he decided to take a rest on my pillow. Seizing the moment, my sister found an old shoe box and gently placing it over the bat, carried bat and pillow out to forest freedom.
Over the years, we have added many bat stories to the family lore, which is why bats have always been on our radar.
So, it is alarming to learn that bats are disappearing by the millions at an accelerated rate. And because of our misplaced fear of bats, most of us are unaware of the essential role bats play in our environment. Did you know they pollinate many of our vegetables and flowers, eat their body weight in pesky mosquitoes, and are essential to our ecosystems?
We can help bats at this critical time by reducing pesticides, promoting natural habitat, putting up bat houses, joining bat conservation efforts, and educating our children and each other on the crucial role bats play in our environment.
So, fear not the bat! Instead, think of our gentle friends swooping gracefully through the twilight as your personal mosquito eliminator. Screams and shoe boxes not required.
Photo Credit: ILLINOIS NATURAL HISTORY SURVEY