Do Bats Catch Mosquitoes?

Bats can devour up to 20 mosquitoes in one minute. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean bats catch mosquitoes at the rate of 1000 per hour.

“We don’t really see that bats are eating a lot of mosquitoes,” said Tim Carter, associate professor of biology at Ball State University who studies bats. “Sometimes when biologists say things like that, when they’re actually saying is ‘mosquito-sized insects.’

One PhD student in Sweden reported observing a single bat capture up to 20 mosquitoes in a minute. He postulated that an individual bat might eat more than 1000 mosquitoes in an hour. However, that was for an article in BATS magazine targeted at bat conservation enthusiasts. Also, the field observations were made in northern Sweden during the summer. There the sun only dips below the horizon for 90 minutes per night. Because of that the larger, meatier insects were not available.

There is little evidence to back up claims that bats would actually eat several hundred or 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour.

Further bat research has shown that in the wild, mosquitoes often make up only a small percentage of bats’ diets. Some studies showing mosquitoes made up less than one percent of the overall diet, with some showing as high as three percent.

Bats Need a Bigger Meal

Many experts believe that the bats, especially larger ones, prefer larger insects like beetles, moths or caddisflies that provide more calories per bug.

“If you had to survive off of eating bugs, you wouldn’t eat a mosquito,” Carter said. “There’s nothing to them. They’re just some legs and some wings. Mostly [bats] are going to be eating other insects.”

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