Yolo County Bat Population May Be Affected By Drought

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Northern California Bats, an educational and rescue organization, says it’s received an unusually high number of reports of dead or dying bats this time of year.

The obvious culprit would be drought conditions in the county.

“Many of the insects the bats will eat are aquatic or they spend part of their life in the water. Bats drink water too,” said Corky Quirk, founder of the organization.

Quirk said there are fewer agricultural fields being flooded or irrigated in the area.  Fewer bats could have a huge impact on agricultural pests, which are eaten in high numbers by bats.

Rachael Long who works with pest management with the UC Cooperative Extension in Woodland said her research has shown that one bat can save a walnut grower $6 worth of pesticides a year by eating moth larvae that can devastate an orchard.

Dozens of crops are affected by worm or larvae insects.  Despite the concern, Quirk says the migration of large colonies of bats has not yet occurred.

“I am not worried just yet. We haven’t seen the full colonies arrive yet, so we don’t really know what the numbers are going to look like,” Quirk said.

When the weather gets warmer Northern California Bats leads bat tours in the Yolo Causeway area where colonies congregate.  She  says that’s when people will be able to gauge the health of the bat population.

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