Mason County News
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Bat Cave Report
2012 Texas Nature Conservancy Steward
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 • Posted June 27, 2012

“Hi again, Ms. Batty here to give you a little update on the goings on at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. Last week I talked about the pups that are being born, how they are born and how fast they grow. I promised to tell you more about our diet as we try to feed our little ones so that they will be on their own in about four weeks after they are born. Even though we can eat about 400-600 tiny bugs in about an hour on a summer night, that is only enough to provide for our own needs since our metabolism is so fast. There is no way for us to be able to get twice that amount to support the growing baby inside of us as we make our way here from Mexico and then to produce milk with the right amount of nutrients to help boost the growth of the pup that we each will give birth to in June. Since we nurse our pup, we have to have a diet rich in fat and protein to ensure that they will be ready to fly on their own in just four short weeks.

"It just so happens that the corn ear worm moth heads north right at the same time that we begin our migration to Texas from Mexico. They fly two miles or ten thousand feet up in the sky so that they can catch the warm front that will give them wind current to push them far into Texas. Each of these moths carry about six hundred eggs that they will lay on crops all across Texas. They will not lay six hundred eggs on one ear of corn or other crop, but will lay one egg on an ear of corn. This means that each moth could devastate six hundred different pieces of fruit or vegetables by herself. Farmer Jones does not want his crops to have worm holes, worms, or the mush that worms leave behind after munching down on his crops, so he will spray to kill these moths. When mamma moth goes down to lay her eggs she will get insecticide on her wing, the next stop some on her tummy, then some on her face. After six hundred egg laying stops, she is pretty much drenched in toxins. If I go out for the night and catch forty of these moths which is the average diet for each mother bat, then change these moths into rich, warm milk for my baby, then this milk becomes deadly to my baby because of the harmful insecticides.

"About fifty percent of the babies born at the cave will die from pesticide influence every year. This toxic material also shortens the mothers’ life spans too. We, Mexican free-tail bats, can live lives in the thirties of years, but at The Eckert James River Bat Cave we have a life expectancy of about 11-15 years. Speaking for all of the other bats, this is UNACCEPTABLE!! We put our tiny feet down in protest! Please hear our plight and refrain from using this horrible poison!!

"To show you why you should help us out, follow with me in this equation: One mother bat goes out and eats about forty moths each night. Each moth carries about six hundred eggs that she will lay on six hundred different pieces of fruit or vegetables. Multiply 600x40=24,000 pieces of fruit and vegetables that ONE bat will protect each summer night. Bring that on back to the cave and multiply 24,000x1.6 million (for the number of bats in the cave from about April-June 15th). Then after June 15th, multiply 24,000x3-4 million (that’s the other moms-to-be that come to the cave to give birth) and add it to the first number. Then around the third week in July, double that number (because the pups will then be eating too).

"I don’t have enough room in this column for the huge amounts of zeros that would be on the end of that number, but it should give you reason to think hard before putting out toxins that cause our death. I have something very interesting planned to tell you next week, so don’t forget to read this column and find out what it is.....we are still coming out just around nine o’clock but Vicki hangs around till about 9:15 P.M. to let you enjoy our show. After that it is just too dark to see us. We should start coming out much earlier so call the bat hotline at 325-347-5970 for current emergence times. Vicki also said that she would, “See ya at the cave!””

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