When it comes to understanding our wild critter friends, we may be more in the dark than bats — and Tom French, of Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife, is just the man to enlighten us. At 6:30 on Tuesday, October 29, the Gloucester Garden Club will present a Halloween special talk given by French on bats, our helpful little friends, at Sawyer Free Library. The only flying mammals, known by their scientific name Chiroptera, bats vastly improve our lives by eating up to half their weight in insects each night.
Bats have been disappearing all across New England and beyond.
“Whole colonies of little brown bats (their actual name), the most common species in New England, are being wiped out,” French says. “Bats play a critical role, both agriculturally and recreationally, in keeping the pest population under control.”
French is director of the Commonwealth’s endangered species program, which is studying the spread of white nose syndrome, a fungal infection that in recent years has caused the death of millions of bats across New England. The federal government estimates that as many as eighty percent of New England’s bats have been eradicated and scientists still don’t have a remedy in sight.
This event is part of the ongoing Gloucester Garden Club Speaker Series, which sponsored an earlier Halloween talk on spiders that drew at full house at the library. The series will focus on understanding the natural world in our yards and gardens.
“Coastal residents should have a particular interest in the survival of little brown bats,” says French, as their preferred habitat is mosquito-breeding swamps, of which we boast more than our share.