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How Bats Benefit Farmers

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

In the United States, we have forty-seven species of bats with 14 found in South Carolina. Most US bats and all of our bats are insectivorous with spiders thrown in, too. As such, they are hugely beneficial. Agriculture is the driving force in South Carolina’s economy, and the estimate is that insect suppression from bats is worth one hundred fifteen million dollars a year just in our small state.  Maybe you’re not a farmer – how about that bats, especially the little brown bat, use mosquitoes as a major part of their diet, including many that carry West Nile Virus. Bigger bats eat bigger insects with the largest numbers including Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies and their super destructive larvae; Diptera – the true flies which includes mosquitoes, Coleoptera – those crunchy beetles, and the bees, wasps and ants in the order Hymenoptera. Their full stomachs translate into money in the bank for farmers.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.