Batty Idea

Holy biodiversity, Batman!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ninety percent of plants and animals in Madagascar are found nowhere else! Sadly, insect outbreaks threaten this amazing biodiversity. When they chomp down local crops, farmers are forced to compensate for the loss with field expansion!

Could a cheap and sustainable solution come in the form of flying mammals?! Bats love insects! But do they eat the RIGHT ones to save the crops?

Enter Mar Cabeza from the University of Helsinki in Finland. Her team caught bats and collected their poo to check for pest D-N-A. They were especially interested in two nefarious moths. The paddy swarming armyworm, and the grass webworm.

The poopy evidence revealed that the bats DO eat these pesky insects! Cabeza hopes these winged eco-warriors can provide eco-friendly pest control in Madagascar. The first step is to encourage farmers to view them as friends, not annoyances. Then the caped crusaders could be invited into fields with little bat houses. This could save crops AND the environment.

So light up that Bat-Signal — and call in the nighttime defenders!