Earlier this year, we partnered with Bat Survey Solutions to survey for bats at Swift River Pecans, where MTBC is currently testing characteristics of bat house success in Texas. The goal was to identify bat species using native pecan forests and cultivated orchards and to document their role in agricultural pest control. We identified seven species using mist nets, harp traps, and acoustic monitoring, including Brazilian free-tailed bats, evening bats, and cave myotis. These species are known to occupy bat houses and other man-made structures, increasing the potential for attraction to bat houses on these properties. Many insect pests listen for bat echolocation and flee areas where bats are heard, making bat houses a unique tool for commercial growers.
This fall, we will be partnering again to bring you an educational workshop where you’ll visit the orchards along the San Marcos River in Central Texas, the birthplace of the commercial pecan industry. You’ll be immersed in the world of bats and agriculture, while learning field survey techniques including mist netting and acoustics. Participants will be able to see bats up close and view live echolocation recordings. This Discovery Workshop showcases a holistic approach toward commercial agriculture that safeguards native soils, water, and wildlife – including bats!
Dates: Thursday thru Saturday 22-24 September 2022
3 nights / 2 days
Cost: $275 per person before September 1, $325 after (LIMITED CAPACITY)
Activities: Thursday night kicks off with a picnic dinner and spectacular bat emergence at the famous Bracken Cave Preserve, just north of San Antonio.
Friday morning (9am) formal instruction begins and will conclude by Saturday night (10pm). Field trips include exploring Central Texas bat habitat, building artificial roosts, and visiting both commercial and native pecan groves to learn about sustainable agricultural practices.
Additional evening programs to see bats in the wild are planned for Friday and Saturday. We will capture live bats in the orchards with mist nets and harp traps and record the echolocation calls of bats flying overhead.
Lodging: Participants must make their own lodging arrangements. For convenience, we suggest booking at the Courtyard Marriott. Discounted rates are available under Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation until September 11.
Meals: Picnic dinners are provided on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Vegetarian fare is available with advanced notice. Breakfast and Lunch are on your own, with many restaurants to choose from in San Marcos.
Pre-course Preparation: There is no prerequisite for this workshop. All naturalists, educators, students, aspiring bat biologists, animal-lovers, and anyone interested in learning more about bats as a form of integrated pest-control and agricultural health are welcome to attend! Though the instruction and activities are geared towards adults, mature school-age children are welcome with an accompanying parent or guardian. Registered participants will receive information about how to prepare for the trip, including a suggested packing list and directions to field sites via email.
This workshop includes many opportunities for field trips and nighttime work with bats. A headlamp is suggested in addition to a secondary light source for participation in evening and nighttime activities. Participants will not be allowed to handle bats, but photography and echolocation call recording is permitted.
Photos: (top, L-R) removing an eastern red bat from a net; portrait of an eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis); setting up a mist net; (middle) Brazilian free-tailed bats emerging from Bracken Cave in 2022; (lower right) recording bats’ echolocation; (bottom right) Merlin Tuttle photographing as team erects mist net pole.