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Bats do some pretty amazing things for Michigan, and there’s no better time to spotlight them than during Bat Week (Oct. 24-31), an annual international celebration. It’s a good opportunity to learn about these important species and consider the benefits of bats.

Michigan is home to nine different bat species – including the handsome red bat – all of which are insectivores. During the evening hours, these flying mammals consume many insects including mosquitoes, beetles, moths and flies.

But the bat benefits don’t stop there. Other species in different parts of the country provide much-needed crop pollination and seed dispersal, helping agriculture and the local environment.

Bats are important members of Michigan’s ecosystems, but, unfortunately, many species are in decline. White-nose syndrome is a deadly disease that affects North American bats primarily during their winter hibernation.

Infected bats wake up early from hibernation, rapidly deplete their fat reserves and are unable to survive the winter. Bats with this disease often exhibit unusual behavior, like flying during daylight hours or gathering outside of caves in cold weather.

There are plenty of ways to support Michigan’s bats. You can:

—Maintain bat habitat.

—Plant a bat-friendly garden and minimize the use of insecticides.

—Remove invasive species.

—Put up a bat house in a location not frequented by people.

—Follow mine closure rules and decontamination guidelines to help reduce the spread of White-nose syndrome.

—Talk to others about the benefits of bats!

Visit BatWeek.org to learn more about these awesome animals and ways you can take action during Bat Week and all year long.

Get more information on our state’s bat species and ways to help at Michigan.gov/Bats.

Questions? Contact Holly Vaughn at 248-881-9429.