Bats are highly beneficial to people, and the advantages of having them around far outweigh any problems you might have with them. As predators of night-flying insects (including mosquitoes!), bats play a role in preserving the natural balance of your property or neighborhood. Although swallows and other bird species consume large numbers of flying insects, they generally feed only in daylight. When night falls, bats take over: a nursing female little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) may consume her body weight in insects each night during the summer.
Contrary to some widely held views, bats are not blind and do not become entangled in peoples’ hair. If a flying bat comes close to your head, it’s probably because it is hunting insects that have been attracted by your body heat. Less than one bat in 20,000 has rabies, and no Washington bats feed on blood.
The safest way to view and enjoy bats is to watch them in action. Bats are fascinating flyers, zigging and zagging about as they chase and eat insects. Little brown bats and Yuma bats prefer to hunt over water. Big brown bats are often seen hunting along the margins of wooded areas or silhouetted against the lighter sky as they twist and turn high above the tree canopy.