Article by Clancy Hall, conservation biologist and image by Dr Les Hall
Just a teaspoon of sugar (helps the mozzie numbers go down!)
On a recent holiday, I took my daughter to see the spectacular fly-out of little bent-wing bats (Miniopterus australis) from Mt Etna, near Rockhampton. Every summer, females form large maternity roosts in limestone caves where the temperature can reach a steamy 39°C! Weighing as little as a teaspoon of sugar, the girls spiral out of the mountain at dusk, like the proverbial bat out of hell! And for good reason, dotted around the cave entrance sit large tree frogs and pythons, ready to make a meal of clumsy young or adults that fly too close to the edge.
The Sunshine Coast is also home to little bent-winged bats. Here, they roost mostly in stormwater drains, tunnels and old mines, and emerge at night to feast on mosquitoes and moths. Once found only as far south as northern New South Wales, little bent-wings now breed south of Sydney. Could these little bats be another indicator of our changing climate? Although their range is extending, populations are still threatened by mining, maternity roost disturbance and habitat destruction.
Next time you measure out that teaspoon of sugar for your morning coffee, cast a thought to how tiny this little mozzie exterminator really is.