Beginning in 2016, The Rodale Institute began a research project to investigate bats for organic pest management. Bats are a widely underestimated biological tool for insect pest management. Research shows they consume major agricultural pests, yet we find most farmers are not sure how many bats they have or how to enhance their activity.
Our goal is to use this research as a way to identify tools to enhance bat activities for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Although it is possible to use bats as a primary pest control in certain commodities and regions, we hope working with bat populations can be just one “tool” in an organic farmer’s “tool box” for pest management. This research area has 4 components:
1.) Investigate bat activity in agricultural landscapes
2.) Determine roost preference by monitoring newly installed bat houses for occupancy by bats
3.) Test bat guano for residual pesticides
4.) Share our findings with farmers and develop tools for increasing bat activity on farms
Outreach to farmers:
Through this research, Rodale Institute hopes to provide farmers with some guidance on how to increase bat activity in order to reduce pest pressure and the use of pesticides. These efforts include sharing the results through online conferences, field days, farm visits, handouts, online resources, and cooperating with other agencies. Educating farmers about bats, how to attract them, how to maintain roosts on their properties, and explaining the critical need for bat conservation.