Bats are some of the most misunderstood creatures on Earth. While many ancient cultures considered bats symbols of good health and fortune, the majority of popular myths associate bats with death and disease. In reality, bats are extremely intelligent, adaptive animals that provide many important benefits to humankind, most notably as voracious insect-eaters. Bats can eat over 100% of their weight in insects each night (that's over 3,000 insects!), and because of their healthy appetites, have been valued at an estimated $22 billion per year to America's agricultural industry.
Bats are unique in that they can be considered both as beneficial and nuisance animals, depending on the situation. Many people regard bats as pests because they can inhabit manmade structures and can pose a rabies risk. However, bats are nonaggressive animals that very rarely interact negatively with humans. Understanding the behavior and habitat requirements of bats can help to minimize conflicts between these valuable species and humans.
Bats are under threat from several anthropogenic factors, including construction of wind turbines, human disturbance, persecution, pesticides, and habitat destruction. White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease recently introduced to North America, is of most concern, having killed millions of bats since 2006.
Below you will find information to help you understand more about bats and to provide guidance for resolving bat-human conflicts. For a printer-friendly fact sheet, providing even more detailed information about these topics and bat biology, read FS1207, "Facts about Bats in New Jersey".