|Bats are Worth More to Us Than Just Fighting Crime|
|Key Words||Imports, Exports, and Trade Surplus|
|News Story||Every spring, the skies of the Southwestern United States teem with free-tailed bats, ready to feast on cotton bollworms. Flying from Latin America northward, these mammals provide a valuable service to cotton farmers.
By assuming that each bat eats about 10 bollworms a night in mid-June (which is determined by looking at the stomach contents of the bats), each bat saves about $0.02 worth of cotton each night in June. And multiply that by millions of bats over the course of the spring and early summer, and you have a lot of money. It's a natural pesticide; no one has to pay for it. And farmers elsewhere are helped. Free-tailed bats help pecan growers in Georgia, sugarcane growers in Hawaii, and vineyard owners in California.
Some people are paying to promote it. Cotton farmers have taken to constructing bat houses (complete with belfries!) to induce bats to nest there. And some are trying to prevent it from happening. Fear of rabies and vampire bats lead people to slaughter bats both here and in Mexico. And that destruction along the food chain can lead to destruction of cotton and other things that we would never have considered before trying to kill Dracula.
|Source||"Fear Vandals, not Vampires." The Economist, January 4, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com.|
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