Bats are often portrayed as creatures of horror. They’re popular around Halloween and in Scooby Doo intros, and they don’t spring to mind as being cute or friendly, but Boulder has actually befriended the bat, and now they’re existence in our ecosystem is essential, and they’re proving to be quite a good friend to have.

It’s common to see a bat around Colorado, especially in and around Boulder, given our location near to the flat irons, which are an excellent place to be if you are a bat. Though, bats might be more common than you think. 45% of all bat species in the US can be found in Colorado, most of which are located in Boulder County. They are closely monitored by volunteer groups that help to watch the bat activity in Colorado, all coming from a selection of different state park, open space, and wildlife branches of local government for the sake of keeping our bats safe and thriving.

And why would they do this? The many species of bats that live in boulder have actually become incredibly important to the ecosystem in Boulder in many different ways, from their poop, to their diet, and even their significant impact on things like medical care and pesticides.

Bat poop, also known as guano, can actually be used a fertilizer. It is also used in many household items, things commonly used for cleaning up. And they produce a lot of it, with the way they eat bugs. Their diet, is in fact, probably the biggest immediate benefit Boulder gets out of their winged friends. Brown bats are a very common species found here, and a single one can eat six hundred mosquitos in an hour. A whole nest of them can totally change the bug populations in our world, which makes for a better balanced ecosystem, and less bug infested, itchy summers for all.

Bats are also on the leading edge of several kinds of medical interests, such as their amazing hearing and echolocation that continues to be studied to help understand and improve our own technologies for the hearing impaired. They also produce a type of anticoagulants, or a blood thinner, that proves to be even better than many medicines on the market today. And finally, another fantastic perk to having the only flying mammal around in such an abundance would be for the simple fact that where there are less bugs, there are less pesticides. Local farmers can enjoy being able to ensure less chemicals in the food that they produce simply because the bats are already hard at work to fill their bellies.

So, the next time that you see a bat house set up near a body of water, you can be very proud to know that it is there, and to know that the bats that might be huddled inside are doing a lot each day at dusk to ensure that our summers are as bug free as we can make them, and that just having them near us to appreciate and learn from can help society continue to build and grow.

Mandi Curtis is an exuberant introvert and Colorado native. She's majoring in creative writing at CU Boulder, her latest effort in chasing a lifelong dream of becoming a published author. In her free time, Mandi can be found awkwardly ordering drinks at hipster cafes and reading anything she can get her hands on. She loves Edison bulbs, hiking, and trying new things. She's an avid traveler, so far having been to seven foreign nations stretching from Spain to the UK. She's passionate and determined by nature. She's volunteered in hospital gift shops and entertained unaccompanied children on trans-Atlantic flights. Mandi does not have the stomach to ever say no to a furry four legged friend, which makes her the perfect servant to her cat.