The Importance of Bat Houses
Installing bat houses around MSU campus was one of our groups first projects, and it is still ongoing. Bat houses play a crucial role in giving bats a safe place to roost that reduces their contact with people. Especially with increased habitat loss, anything that can be done to restore and maintain bat populations should be encouraged.
We've considered several locations for installation around campus, but some of the top priorities include the Beal Garden, the Student Organic Farm and certain spaces along the Red Cedar. The final proposed locations will depend on feedback and receptivity of the involved departments as well as EHS, Infrustructure and Planning as well as feedback from local pest management companies to ensure they can act as a deterrent for bats that might otherwise end up in student housing.
About the Bats
While these bat houses have a large capacity, it is important to understand what species of bat will likely occupy the bat house, and how those colonies grow. Unlike many other animals, bats usually only have one pup at a time and many pups do not survive to adulthood. This makes colonies slow to establish and difficult to replace when they are lost due to loss of habitat.
Habitat loss increases wildlife human contact, and with habitat restoration we can help mediate these effects. There are additional benefits to having bat houses up around campus and involving the public in conservation efforts. Educating students on the benefits as well as the risks that bats pose has been shown to positively affect their response to the risks.
The bats that will likely inhabit these bat houses are either little or big brown bats. Little brown bats consume mainly soft bodied insects like mosquitoes. One little brown bat can consume between 500 and 1,000 mosquitoes in one hour. Large brown bats (these are actually not that much larger than the little) feed mainly on beetles and larger insects.
It’s estimated that these bats save the US agriculture industry 3.7 billion dollars each year in pest management. Both bats are at risk from both habitat loss and an infection of the hibernaculum called White Nose Syndrome (WNS). Both will form maternity colonies in bat houses, using them primarily to give birth close to a summer feeding spot.