Using Bats For Insect Control

Wouldn’t it be great if you could significantly reduce the codling moth population on your farm without even lifting a finger? New research suggests it could be feasible simply by introducing bats into your integrated pest management (IPM) program.

Thanks to a three-year grant, Steve Tennes of Country Mills Farms, in collaboration with Stretch Island Fruit Company, is studying the integration of bats into the pest management program at his Charlotte, MI-based orchard. Seven farms total throughout southern Michigan are participating. Each farm received four bat houses provided by the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC).

Researchers from Michigan State University are leading the entomology portion of the study, monitoring codling moth flight and damage in relationship to bat activity, and a graduate student from Eastern Michigan University is monitoring the bat activity through a passive listening device.

Bat Houses

According to the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC), one bat can eat 600 to 1,000 insects in an hour.

To help attract bats, OBC offers a range of bat houses designed based on years of research.

For more information, or to purchase a bat house, go to www.batconservation.org.

For plans to build your own bat house, go to http://batconservation.org/content/
buildyourown.htm
.

According to Tennes, the bat monitoring equipment listens for specific bat echo locations (the sound bats use to communicate and navigate). “From that, this equipment can tell exactly which species of bat is flying, when they’re flying, and the amount of relative bat activity at the different farms,” he says. “We’re going to correlate that to the amount of codling moth activity and damage.”

The next step, which they’re working on now, involves something called bat misting. Essentially, this means temporarily catching the bats and collecting and analyzing their guano (excrement). The bat species are identified, and the guano is evaluated for percentage of codling moth and oriental fruit moth DNA. This provides details on the number of codling moths eaten by each different bat species.

The Bat Signal

So, what can growers do to attract bats? There’s not a lot, Tennes says, other than installing bat houses. “The biggest thing is not to do certain things, and that is disturb where they’re living,” he notes. “Keep human activity to a minimum.”

There is a science to creating the bat houses, too. If you make the opening a quarter of an inch too big, for example, owls rather than bats might inhabit it — a quarter of an inch too small and the bats might not fit, Tennes says.

He notes that bats are migratory, too, which means in order for them to come back, it’s paramount you provide and maintain suitable housing. “It takes patience,” says Tennes. “Bats have one litter a year, so their reproductive rate is much slower than that of codling moth, so it takes time to build up bat populations.”

A Piece Of The Puzzle

While bats can be an excellent addition to an IPM program, Tennes is quick to note they’re not a stand-alone solution. But, with more and more synthetic insect controls being phased out, and with adult codling moths developing resistance, bats are just one more control mechanism to add to the arsenal. “This would be one tool that would go into an IPM or an organic system,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is quantify how much of an effect they can have and also give growers tools to make good decisions on how to help increase bat activity.”

Tennes adds that a crucial part of any IPM program is targeting the different stages of pests. The bats have the potential to work hand-in-hand with mating disruption, for example, to cover multiple stages of the pest’s lifecycle.

This is the first year of the study, so conclusive results likely won’t be available until 2011, but an interim report will be available by this winter, Tennes says.

Overall, he’s optimistic about the study’s outcome. “The science is there,” he says. “I think long term, this has got real promise. It’s just going to take a lot of time and patience.”

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

Insect & Disease UpdateWhat’s Up With Citrus Fruit Drop?
November 28, 2014
Probable suspects identified in falling fruit as well as tips to mitigate it. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Technology Tested In Europe As Bird Repellent
November 28, 2014
Automated randomized laser system configured to keep birds away. Read More
VegetablesClifton Seed Co. Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 27, 2014
For more information, contact: Clifton Seed Co. P.O. Box 206 Faison, NC 28341 910-267-2690; fax: 910-267-2692 cliftonseed.com Read More
CitrusBe Willing To Take A ‘Wild Turkey’ Approach To Farm Fixes [Opinion]
November 27, 2014
Editor Frank Giles says Florida Grower will be stepping up to the bully pulpit in 2015 addressing topics that impact the industry the most. Read More
CitrusNew Partnership To Expand ‘Fresh From Florida’ Footprint In Taiwan
November 26, 2014
Latest deal puts exclamation point on successful Asia marketing campaign. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia OKs Asian Citrus Psyllid Insecticide
November 26, 2014
Agriphar Crop Solutions’ Micromite 80WGS is also effective on several other citrus pests. Read More
VegetablesAmerican Takii Presents Its Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 26, 2014
For more information, contact: American Takii 301 Natividad Rd. Salinas, CA 93906 831-443-4901; fax: 831-443-3976 takii.com Read More
FruitsWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More

The Latest

Insect & Disease UpdateWhat’s Up With Citrus Fruit Drop?
November 28, 2014
Probable suspects identified in falling fruit as well as tips to mitigate it. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Technology Tested In Europe As Bird Repellent
November 28, 2014
Automated randomized laser system configured to keep birds away. Read More
VegetablesClifton Seed Co. Presents Their Latest Vegetable Variet…
November 27, 2014
For more information, contact: Clifton Seed Co. P.O. Box 206 Faison, NC 28341 910-267-2690; fax: 910-267-2692 cliftonseed.com Read More
CitrusBe Willing To Take A ‘Wild Turkey’ Approach…
November 27, 2014
Editor Frank Giles says Florida Grower will be stepping up to the bully pulpit in 2015 addressing topics that impact the industry the most. Read More
CitrusNew Partnership To Expand ‘Fresh From Florida’ Foot…
November 26, 2014
Latest deal puts exclamation point on successful Asia marketing campaign. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia OKs Asian Citrus Psyllid Insecticide
November 26, 2014
Agriphar Crop Solutions’ Micromite 80WGS is also effective on several other citrus pests. Read More
VegetablesAmerican Takii Presents Its Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 26, 2014
For more information, contact: American Takii 301 Natividad Rd. Salinas, CA 93906 831-443-4901; fax: 831-443-3976 takii.com Read More
FruitsWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More
VegetablesStokes Seeds Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Stokes Seeds P.O. Box 548 Buffalo, NY 14240-0548 800-263-7233; fax: 800-272-5560 stokesseeds.com Read More
VegetablesAbbott & Cobb Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varie…
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Abbott & Cobb P.O. Box 307 Feasterville, PA 19053 800-245-SEED; fax:215-245-9043 abbotcobb.com Read More
VegetablesVariety Trials 2014: Rupp Seeds
November 25, 2014
Check out new pumpkins weighing between 18 and 20 pounds as well as new powdery-mildew tolerant butternut squash hybrids. Read More
Food SafetyMultistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Bean Sprouts
November 25, 2014
FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local officials continue to investigate the food-borne illness outbreak. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCitrus Survey: New Management Techniques Trending
November 25, 2014
Growers widen their tactical approach to survive HLB. Read More
FruitsFruitGrowerConnect Brings Buyers And Sellers Together […
November 25, 2014
Suppliers and growers got down to business in San Diego discussing current needs, solutions, and ways to increase efficiencies on the farm. Read More
Vegetables15 Must Have Carrot Varieties [Slideshow]
November 24, 2014
Browse the slideshow for information on 13 carrot varieties to add to your collection. Read More
CitrusReasons Aplenty Florida Growers Should Feel Good Going …
November 24, 2014
Thanks to recent industry achievements, the next 12-month period is shaping up to be a year to remember --- fondly. Read More