TEDxDetroit Preview: Bat Myths and Facts and Why Bats Matter to Michigan

Of all of the things Michiganders have to appreciate about fall, bats probably don’t top the list for most people. But that’s exactly what Rob Mies and the Organization for Bat Conservation are hoping to change.

An ecologist and field-researcher by training, Mies serves as the group’s executive director where he has taken his expertise and passion for bats to an international stage as part of the #SavetheBats campaign. He’s been a guest on Late Night with Conan O’BrienEllen and National Geographic, to name a few, and has even gotten some of the stars of ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ on board with helping bats.

But why do bats matter to Michigan? One huge reason is that bats eat insects that feed on our crops (half their body weight each night!), which means farmers can use less pesticides. This saves billions of dollars each year and helps keep our food healthier. In fact, a recent study estimated that bats save around $1 billion globally by controlling pests that attack corn crops.

Mies is one of the many great speakers coming to the Motor City this week for TEDxDetroit. In advance of his talk, here’s a look at some of the top myths about bats, courtesy of the Organization for Bat Conservation:

Myth: Bats are pests. Bats are not pests, they actually help control insect pests. An individual bat can eat thousands of mosquito-sized insects in one night. Bats are critical components to many ecosystems because they help control insect populations.

Myth: Bats are worthless animals. Bats are very helpful and useful animals. They help control insect populations, reseed deforested land, and pollinate plants, including those that provide food for humans. Not to mention, we have learned a great deal about sonar and echolocation from bats.

Myth: Bats get tangled in your hair or attack people. Bats do not build nests and do not get tangled in human hair. They are actually afraid of humans and will avoid us when possible.

Myth: Bats are dirty. Bats are very clean and groom themselves just like cats.

Myth: Bats are blind. Bats are not blind, all bats can see. Bats are often thought to be blind because many species have smaller eyes and use echolocation to navigate, however they can still see.

You can hear Rob Mies discuss more about the #SavetheBats campaign and the work of the Organization for Bat Conservation at TEDxDetroit at the Fox Theatre on Oct. 8. For tickets, information and a full speaker lineup visit tedxdetroit.com

Check back later this month for A Healthier Michigan podcast that will take you inside the “bat cave” at the Organization for Bat Conservation and up close with some of Michigan’s native bats.

Photo Credit: Courtesy, Organization for Bat Conservation

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