Photo Friday – 100,000 bats over the University of Florida

Bat houses UF Gainesville

 

 There exists, in one of the less-academic corners of the University of Florida, two tall structures overlooking a lake.  Like houses without walls or sheds on stilts, the exist not for the 50,000 students who attend the school, but for the 100,000 bats (roughly, I didn’t count) that call the field home.

Inside the bat houses, which stand among a lake, a community garden and several fraternity houses, a large colony of Brazilian free-tailed bats hang and squeak all day long.  When the sun sets (on days when the sunset temperature is over 70 degrees), the bats leave the houses in a swarm and head toward the lake, where they spend the night eating mosquitoes, moths and other small insects.

If you’re looking for a free show, head out to the bat houses shortly before sunset and join the crowd of onlookers – and there’s always a crowd of onlookers.  Arrive even earlier and watch the sun set over Lake Alice (right across the street).

These are the largest occupied bat houses in North America, according to UF.  And the bats eat 10-20 million insects every night, begging the question:  Why are there still so many bugs in Gainesville?

The bat houses were original built to lure the bats already on campus away from other buildings (like the football stadium and the journalism school) where they had set up camp.  The move was successful, although I’m not sure how you convince 100,000 bats to move across campus.  A question for another day, I suppose.

UF bat houses

The two bat houses are home to over 100,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats.

 

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Comments

  1. Traveling Ted says:

    Bats are disappearing due to a disease up north, so glad to hear they are flourishing at the University of Florida. Nice to see that the university has a natural mosquito control unit.

    • I know white nose syndrome has been killing bats in caves across the southeast. Many of the caves now require that you wear new caving boots each time you enter the cave – yikes. I’m always happy to see the healthy population at UF.

  2. What a wonderful sight…. I’ve been reading so much of the spread of the fungus, that thesis welcoming! Such amazing creatures, I hope they may get help soon.

  3. James Dial says:

    I have two bat houses In Ft. Pierce Florida that had about 70 Bats in each. Came back from vacation & no bats. What may have happen???????????? They have been here for about five years

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