Bats are cooler than you think. Though these fascinating night flyers are often considered to be frightening, they are actually a benefit to natural systems and to us. More than 40 bat species across the country provide valuable ecological and economic services such as pest control and pollination.
Did you know there are bats on Fire Island?
Five bat species can be found within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore. One of which is classified as a threatened species. The Northern Long-Eared Bat, Myotis septentrionalis, has been recorded with high activity at the William Floyd Estate, a unit of the Seashore located on Long Island.
Studying Bats on Long Island
The survival of hibernating bats in North America is threatened by White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal infection that has killed more than six million bats since it was first discovered in the winter of 2006.
In order to successfully protect native bat populations we must better understand them. Fire Island National Seashore is monitoring bats using acoustic devices that pick up and record echolocation calls of bats using ultrasound technology.
Calls recorded on Fire Island and at the William Floyd Estate are run through software, called Sonobat, which helps identify the type of species in protected areas as well as their level of activity within these areas. This information is helping us better understand the abundance and distribution of bats in Long Island's national parks and how best to protect these fascinating creatures.
Bats are critically important for insect management, pollination and dispersal of seeds. Insectivorous bats eat an extraordinary amount of nocturnal insects, like mosquitoes, in one night. One of these bats will consume anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 insects every night.
Are bats mammals? Bats are listed under the family, Chiroptera, meaning "hand-wing". They are the only mammals capable of true flight.
Do bats drink blood? Yes, the vampire bat lives in Latin America and does drink the blood of cattle and other large animals, but not that of humans.
Do all bats have rabies? No, less than 1% of bats have rabies.
Are bats blind? No, they rely heavily on other senses like sound.
White Nose Syndrome
White Nose Syndrome was first documented in the winter of 2006 in New York. A fungal pathogen, Geomyces destructans, was transported by foot to a bat cave and has spread throughout the eastern United States.
The fungus thrives in cold environments like bat hibernaculums and causes a disruption in the hibernating cycle of the bats which has resulted in an alarmingly high death rate for bats.