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Where Bats Hang Out
The Great Dragonfly Challenge

By Jacqueline J. Belwood


If youâve ever looked up at the sky on a summer evening, youâve probably seen bats fluttering about. Have you ever wondered where they "hang out" in the daytime? Or where they disappear in the winter? Bats spend the summer days roosting, or resting, in trees, caves, barns, attics, church steeples, bridges, sports stadiums, or even specially made wooden bat houses.

In winter, bats sleep through the cold weather. They often roost in caves or old coal mines. Never bother a winter roost÷the bats will wake up. If they wake up too many times, they will die. People like me who study bats are trying to find summer bat roosts. To understand bats better, we need to map out where different kinds of bats live, how many bats there are, what kinds of habitat they need, and what their activity patterns are like.

You can help! Any information you can give us about the location of bats is important. Fill out the data sheet, and send it to Dragonfly.

Watching bats is great fun, but donât get too close. Always watch from a distance! Remember bats are wild animals. Do not touch or handle them in any way÷they may bite you. Some bats can carry a very serious disease called rabies.



Stuff You Need:
đ Flashlight
đ Pen or pencil
đ Watch
đ An adult to help lend a hand

Where to Look: If possible, look toward where the sun sets. Thatâs where the sky is lighter, and bats are easier to see. Look at trees (including dead ones), the tops of buildings, and any bat houses in your neighborhood.

When to Look: Begin about 15 minutes before nightfall, and watch until itâs too dark to see shapes clearly.

What You Do: Try to find and count bats leaving a roost. (Do not count animals that go into a roost when the sun goes down because these animals are likely to be birds!)  Go back to the same roost for four evenings, and count the bats as they leave. During your  observations, you should be at least 6 meters (about 20 feet) from a roost. Speak softly, and do nothing to disturb the roost or its bats. Never shine your flashlight on the bats.

Please Answer These Questions
(Then Click on Submit)

Weather (hot & humid; rainy)

My name is 

How Many Bats Did You See?
Number of Bats 1st Evening 
Number of Bats 2nd Evening 
Number of Bats 3rd Evening 
Number of Bats 4th Evening 

Do you live in . . . (check one)
a city
a suburb of a city
a small town or village
the country or on a farm

What is the nearest body of fresh water? (check one)
a small stream (less than 10 meters wide)
a medium stream (from 10 to 100 meters wide)
a large stream (wider than 100 meters)
a small lake (you can see the other side easily)
a large lake (you can see the other side easily)

How close is the nearest body of water? (check one)
It would take five minutes or less for me to walk there
It would take between five minutes and 20 minutes to walk there
It would take me more than 20 minutes to walk there

To Send Us Your Data 
To Reset the Form 

Watch for bat droppings around the roost, but donât touch them. They look like black or brown grains of rice. Most bat droppings are made of ground-up insect pieces!

Click on the "Submit" button or send your data to:
The Great Dragonfly Challenge
Dragonfly Magazine
Miami University
Oxford, OH 45056

Jacqueline J. Belwood is a research associate at the Ohio Biological Survey and the scientist-in-residence at the Cincinnati Nature Center. In her spare time, she likes to re-create jewelry based on jewelry made in different cultures from around the world.

Hermit Crab
Bird Nest
Roosting Bats


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