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Nature Notebook – Bats in Winter

Bats are important agricultural pest controllers, but you won’t be seeing them for another five or six months. All the bat species in Michigan are insect eaters and can’t survive without food in winter. To survive this period, the bats either find a spot to hibernate in a cave, building, or mine or they migrate to a warmer area.

Some bats found around here may actually even migrate north. A bat that hibernates in Michigan may be travelling about 350 miles from their summer feeding and nesting grounds to their hibernaculum. Each species has different preferences for the winter. Little brown bats, tri-colored bats, and northern long-eared bats will hibernate in mines in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Big brown bats and red bats are the two most common of the nine species of bats found in Michigan. A big brown bat is heartier than most and may move into a building or shed to overwinter, where the red bat migrates south to Indiana, Kentucky, or Ohio to caves. The hoary bat is an impressive migrator and can go to southeastern United States.