Using DNA, UF Research Shows Which Bats Binge on Crop Pests (Morning Ag Clips)

Using DNA, UF Research Shows Which Bats Binge on Crop Pests

“Big bats binge bad bugs.” It’s a catchy, alliterative title, and it’s apropos for the latest research work by University of Florida scientist Holly Ober.

All bats in the Southeast eat insects and feed at night. They eat a varied diet, including mosquitoes, beetles, moths and more. Their pest-control services are estimated as high as $53 billion per year in the United States.

Aside from controlling nuisance insects, some bats feast on insects that eat crops, Ober and her research team found in a newly published study. One of those species alone causes $350 million a year in crop damage. Another causes $1 billion a year.

For the study, published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Ober led a group that studied 180 bats in north Florida, south Georgia and south Alabama. Researchers found that the three most common bat species voraciously ate insects that otherwise cause major economic damage to several crops. In fact, 61% of the bats studied ate at least one agricultural pest.

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