Bats and Agriculture


[Narrator]
This is Passport to Texas. Millions of Mexican Free-tailed bats are back
in Texas where they will bear young and eat tons of pesky insects. [Meg Goodman]
The Mexican free-tailed bat in particular is really valuable for agricultural purposes.
 [Narrator]
Meg Goodman is a bat biologist. [Meg Goodman]
Current research has shown that these bats can save farmers up to two sprays of pesticides
per year because of all the insect pests that they’re eating. They’re eating things
like the corn earworm moth and the cotton boll worm moth, among other crop pest species. [Narrator]
In addition to eating their weight in crop pests and other annoying insects, their nightly
flights from inside caves and under bridges attract tourists. [Meg Goodman]
Just their numbers and nightly emergences bring in a lot of tourist dollars to a lot
of small communities and big communities like Austin. It’s one of our top tourist destinations
right here in Austin. But they do provide a lot of dollars through nature tourism through
a lot of our smaller communities throughout the state. [Narrator]
The Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is home to more than 1.5 million Mexican
free-tailed bats. Beginning in late spring, people line the
bridge to witness adult bats emerge about sunset and then head to the agricultural land
east of Austin where they begin their nightly feeding.
Our show receives support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program, which
funds conservation projects throughout Texas. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia
Nasti.

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