Underappreciated Bats to Appear on Postage Stamps

Bats use a high frequency sonar system called echolocation which is so effective they can hunt even tiny insects in the dark of night. It allows fishing bats, for example, to detect a minnow's fin as fine as a human hair even if it is just barely sticking out of the water.

Some bats can hear the footsteps of a moth as it inches across the sand.

About 20 million bats live in Texas's Bracken Cave, and they eat about 200 tons of insects a night.

It only takes about 150 bats to protect farmers from 33 million rootworms each summer.

Bats range in size from the world's smallest mammal, the bumblebee bat of Thailand, which weighs less than a penny, to Indonesia's "flying foxes" with a wingspan of nearly six feet.

And all those bugs must be good for them. The little brown bat of North America can live for more than 32 years.

If all of this is disgusting enough to make you reach for a shot of Tequila, you might be interested to know that without bat pollinators, seed production of the Tequila-producing agave plant drops to 1/3000th of normal.

Lee Dye’s column appears weekly on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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