Bad News For Bats: Bat Falcon Spotted in United States For First Time; And Invasive Noble Widow Spider Caught Chowing Down on Bats in Britain

Bats are amazing flying mammals ranging in size from tiny to tremendous. Most consume great volumes of insects, some eat fruit. Other creatures return the favor including a falcon now at least visiting the U.S. and a poisonous spider.

selective focus photo of black bat on brown stone
Bats can be Halloween nightmares or efficient insect eaters. Or they can be food for falcons and spiders.Photo by HitchHike on

Bat falcons are small falcons living mostly in Mexico and Central America. There may be as many as 5 millions cruisisng the skies at dawn and dusk. These falcons eat bats, as the name implies. The birds catch bats on the wing and on the ground but also snack on large flying insects such as dragonflies. Bat falcons are not above eating mice and other ground dwellers either.

Bat Falcon with dragonfly Photo US Fish and Wildlife Service

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a first occurred recently. A bat falcon was seen in south Texas at the Santa Ana Refuge. It is not clear whether the falcon is solitary or whether the falcons are moving north. Although the refuge is small it is located along major migratory routes for birds and is considered a key wildlife refuge,

As for spiders, few are more recognizable, or dangerous, than black widows. Members of the latrodectus genus they are both easily recognizable and have potent venom. Less well-known are their cousins, the false back widows. They are members of the steatoda genus. False black widows may closely resemble their dangerous cousins but they lack the infamous red hourglass. Their poison is medically significant to humans. Although it has some of the same components as black widow venom it is nowhere near as dangerous. Because spiders are spiders each can and will eat the other.

Noble false widow with entrapped bat, Photo by Ben Waddams,

One of the false widows is the “noble widow” which has become an invasive species in Great Britain and Ireland. Native to the Canary Islands and Madeira it is considered a highly invasive spider because it is spreading around the world. On two separate days one was observed in Shropshire, England, capturing and feeding on pippistrelle bats. It was the first time this predatory behavior was observed. These bats are “microbats” as they are about two inches long and weigh about one-quarter ounce. The spider caught a “pup” and killed the baby and was eating it. The next day the same spider caught an adult but that bat was rescued and released. The incident is considered important because conservation authorities are concerned about the impact of the invasive spider on English wildlife. Invasive species are problems the world over, including Colombia and Australia.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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