You may have heard stories about or seen videos of millions of bats emerging from caves at dusk in the Desert Southwest. Interestingly, that species, the Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is found throughout the state of Florida, too! Though the western subspecies migrates south to Mexico during the winter, the free-tailed bats here in Florida, T. b. cynocephala, stick around throughout the year thanks to our relatively minimal seasonal climatic fluctuations.
Spooky as their faces may seem, free-tailed bats don’t feed on blood. They’re actually insectivorous, primarily feeding on mosquitos, moths, and flies that they locate mid-flight through echolocation. Emerging at dusk to feed, they spend their days roosting in hollow trees, beneath cabbage-palm fronds, or around man-made shade structures.
As mesic hammocks and other forests continue to get developed, Brazilian free-tailed bats are losing habitat here in Florida. You can help to offset this habitat loss by building a bat house in your yard while reaping the benefits of free pest control!