For some of us, seeing a bat squeak by on leathery wings as we’re enjoying a dusky evening in the backyard is a bit of a mood killer, but bats get a bad rap thanks to their creepy looks and all the vampire hoopla.</br></br>In reality, though, bats are pretty cool and chip in a lot to make a backyard more enjoyable (unlike spiders, which contribute nothing and should be scorched from the face of the planet.*)</br></br>Here are just a couple reasons why bats are good to have around – but not in – the house:</br></br><strong>They eat lots and LOTS of bugs.</strong></br></br>People like to say that bats help control the mosquito population, but the larger truth is that <a title="New York Times" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/04/science/04batsw.html?_r=0" target="_blank">bats help control the bug population</a>, period. Bats eat all kinds of bugs in addition to many other things, including the spiders we all so rightfully dread.*</br></br>But, if eliminating mosquitoes is what gets your vote, then it’s important to note that bats eat literally tons of them. <a title="Bat Conservation International" href="https://www.batcon.org/pdfs/bathouses/MosquitoControl.pdf" target="_blank">A study of one Florida colony of 30,000 bats</a> showed they ate 50 tons of insects annually, with 15 tons of those being mosquitoes.</br></br>Of course, you don’t want 30,000 bats in your yard, but then again you probably (hopefully?) don’t have a 15-ton mosquito problem.</br></br><strong>They promote healthy plant life.</strong></br></br>As mentioned, bats don’t just eat mosquitoes; they eat all kinds of pests. They’ll even snap up caterpillars, grubs, grasshoppers and other critters that like to chomp on your plants.</br></br><a title="U.S. Forest Service" href="http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/bats.shtml" target="_blank">Bats are also prolific pollinators</a>. It’s true that a lot of the plants they pollinate are south of the border (agave, guava, banana and the like), but many species migrate to the U.S. in summer and then return to their tropical roosts in winter to help keep you in delicious fruit!</br></br><strong>They reforest through seeding.</strong></br></br>Bats eat a lot, and many bat species eat a lot of fruit in addition to bugs. In this way, they help to seed new areas with fruit plants that will (again) provide you with more fruit and other tropical foods.</br></br>Of course, the fruit trees will likely never make it to your yard, but the bats might and if you protect them there they will make sure there’s always plenty of chocolate and tequila ready to ship to your local grocery.</br></br><strong>So, what can you do?</strong></br></br>One of the best things you can do for bats is to not be scared of them. They’re very harmless and aren’t even likely to spread disease – so ease off on the tennis rackets!</br></br>But, if you really want to do something for bats, you can <a title="Bat Houses" href="http://www.atgstores.com/outdoor/garden-decor/bird-houses/wildlife-type/bat/??sort=priceLow" target="_blank">hang up a bat house in your yard</a>, and watch how much pesticide you use so you don’t poison their dinner – your bats will thank you!</br></br>*PS: We take back all the mean things we said about spiders. They’re good for the garden, too, even if they are super creepy.