October’s end brings the traditional last of the harvest: as the growing season ends, with it the Wheel of the Year winds down, and it’s time to store provisions and prepare for winter. To reflect on the past year, and to turn inward and remember those we love who are gone. Now, the veil between the living and the dead is barely there at all – thus celebrations and commemorations such as Samhain, Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos.
Bats, perhaps more than any other animal are associated with this time of year. The lowly little bat is a misunderstood creature; superstitions caused many throughout the centuries to fear them. But without these endangered keystone species, the health of natural ecosystems (and humans, as part of them) would suffer greatly.
The more than 1,300 bat species are major insectivores – consuming some of the most destructive agricultural pests; and they pollinate many of the fruits that support human and animal populations worldwide. They disperse seeds that contribute to the survival and restoration of threatened landscapes such as rainforests. Their guano also provides excellent fertilizer for communities and farmers.
Bat Conservation International is a global nonprofit that combats (no pun intended) threats to these animals such as white nose syndrome – a deadly fungus from Eurasia that’s now also decimating millions of bats in North America. One goal I have is to try to encourage local bat populations by building a bat box – updates to come!
Happy Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead to everyone!