By MARIE ORTTENBURGER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Bats get a bad rap, but a new study proves that they’re hard workers, and that the work they do is worth more than $1 billion to farmers. The study shows that bats play a vital role in keeping in check corn earworm moths and larvae that destroy corn, cotton, tomato and other important crops. It’s no news to farmers that bats are important pest regulators. But without knowing just how much bats contribute, it’s hard for farmers to confidently decide to reduce their pesticide use, said Christie Bahlai, a research associate at Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology. “Farmers are stewards of their lands and know better than anyone that many pesticides can be dangerous and cause adverse effects,” said Bahlai, “They don’t always know if the natural enemies will be sufficient to keep pest populations in check.”
“Farmers in general always look for alternatives to control pests other than chemistry,” said Jim Zook, executive director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan and the Michigan Corn Growers Association.