Insect prey eaten by Hoary Bats (Lasiurus cinereus) prior to fatal collisions with wind turbines
Product Type:Journal Article
Author(s):Valdez, E.W., and P.M. Cryan
Suggested Citation:Valdez, E.W., and P.M. Cryan. 2013. Insect prey eaten by Hoary Bats (Lasiurus cinereus) prior to fatal collisions with wind turbines. Western North American Naturalist. 73(4): 516-524.
Wind turbines are being deployed all across the world to meet the growing demand for energy, and in many areas, these turbines are causing the deaths of insectivorous migratory bats. One of the hypothesized causes of bat susceptibility is that bats are attracted to insects on or near the turbines. We examined insect remains in the stomachs and intestines of hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) found dead beneath wind turbines in New York and Texas to evaluate the hypothesis that bats die while feeding at turbines. Most of the bats we examined had full stomachs, indicating that they fed in the minutes to hours leading up to their deaths. However, we did not find prey in the mouths or throats of any bats that would indicate the bats died while capturing prey. Hoary bats fed mostly on moths, but we also detected the regular presence of beetles, true bugs, and crickets. Presence of terrestrial insects in stomachs indicates that bats may have gleaned them from the ground or the turbine surfaces, yet aerial capture of winged insect stages cannot be ruled out. Our findings confirm earlier studies that indicate hoary bats feed during migration and eat mostly moths. Future studies on bat behaviors and insect presence at wind turbines could help determine whether feeding at turbines is a major fatality risk for bats.