Since 2012, Ambioterra has been working to protect bat habitats as part of several of its projects, since most of the species present in Quebec are at risk. This has allowed the team to discover that six of the eight species of bats known to have habitats in Quebec can be found in the Montérégie-ouest region.
In spring, towards the end of April or the beginning of May, the species of bats that overwinter in Quebec come out of their hibernation, and those that migrate make the trip back home. They can be observed at sunset as they emerge from shelter to feed.
Bats: our allies
Did you know that in Quebec, bats are strictly insectivores that help reduce insect populations? An individual bat can consume more than 25 per cent of its body weight in insects per night. A female bat, at the peak of her lactation, can consume nearly 100 per cent of her body mass in a single night. Bats help farmers to control insect populations and reduce their use of insecticides, which helps to reduce soil and water pollution. As an example of the important role bats can play, U.S. scientists have shown that bat deaths associated with white-nose syndrome will result in an additional $3.7 billion in pest control costs for the agricultural sector.
White-nose syndrome is a disease caused by a fungus that attacks cave bat species during hibernation. This infection increases the number of times the bats are awakened and causes them to waste the reserves they need to survive. Those that have exhausted their reserve will break their hibernation too early, only to starve because their food is not yet available. The disease has reduced some bat populations by up to 90 per cent. This includes the little brown bat, a species now considered to be endangered by the government of Canada.
Despite this disease, there is good news. The Ambioterra team has found bats on the properties of several landowners in the region, thanks to biodiversity protection projects. This includes one of the most important maternity colonies in the Montérégie – at an organic market garden, the Ferme Les Jardinosaures in Godmanchester.
Unfortunately, there is no effective large-scale treatment for this infection. However, there are several things you can do to help bats if they are living on your property. This includes learning to coexist with bats by avoiding the use of pesticides. Homeowners with woods or forests can initiate reforestation or management projects to create small openings that will help bats in their movements and search for food. Dead trees with a diameter of 10 centimetres or more, or the dead parts of a still-living or healthy tree, can also be maintained as ideal roosts for bats.
To learn more about bat species in the area, or the different biodiversity protection projects, visit the Ambioterra website at www.ambioterra.org, or contact us.