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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Economic Value of the Pest Control Service Provided by Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats in South-Central Texas

Authors
item Cleveland, Cutler - BOSTON UNIVERSITY
item Betke, Margrit - BOSTON UNIVERSITY
item Federico, Paula - UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
item Frank, Jeff - INDIGO SYSTEMS, CA
item Hallam, Thomas - UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
item Horn, Jason - BOSTON UNIVERSITY
item Lopez, Juan DE Dios
item Mccracken, Gary - UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
item Medellin, Rodrigo - NATIONAL UNIV., MEXICO
item Moreno-Valdez, Arnulfo - TECHNICAL INST., MEXICO
item Sansone, Chris - COOP. EXT. SERVICE
item Westbrook, John
item Kunz, Thomas - BOSTON UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 2006
Publication Date: June 1, 2006
Citation: Cleveland, C.J., Betke, M., Federico, P., Frank, J.D., Hallam, T.G., Horn, J., Lopez, J., McCracken, G.F., Medellin, R.A., Moreno-Valdez, A., Sansone, C.G., Westbrook, J.K., Kunz, T.H. 2006. Economic value of the pest control service provided by Brazilian free-tailed bats in south-central Texas. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 4:238-243.

Interpretive Summary: Brazilian free-tailed bats form enormous summer breeding colonies, mostly in caves and bridges in south-central Texas and northern Mexico, and prey on important agricultural pests including the cotton bollworm. We estimated the value of free-tailed bats in suppressing bollworms in cotton production based on bat dietary consumption, cotton production, and insect pest management. Avoided crop losses and pest management costs were estimated to be $741,000 per year, with a range of $121,000 to $1,725,000, relative to a $6 million annual cotton harvest within an eight-county region in south-central Texas. Results of this study reveal that free-tailed bats significantly contribute to areawide pest management in the Texas Winter Garden, and may additionally reduce pest migrations and consequent infestations in downwind cropping regions.

Technical Abstract: Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) form enormous summer breeding colonies, mostly in caves and bridges in south-central Texas and northern Mexico. Prey of these bats includes several species of adult insects whose larvae are known to be important agricultural pests, including the corn earworm or cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa zea). We estimated the value of these bats in controlling this pest in cotton production for an eight-county region in south-central Texas. The avoided crop losses and costs of pest management were estimated to be $741,000 per year, with a range of $121,000 to $1,725,000, relative to a $6 million annual cotton harvest.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014