This summer my kids became fascinated with the bats that flew over our backyard at twilight. We'd watch for them to swoop in for a feast of moths and mosquitoes near the streetlights. We'd look for their distinctive floppy-flying style and listen for their high-pitched chatter.

There are over a dozen species of bats that call South Dakota home. Most of them can be found across the state. They live in trees or buildings, and in western South Dakota, they are fond of the caves and old mines in the Black Hills.

Bats are not blind, they have functioning eyes and use ultrasonic sounds for echolocating when hunting and flying.

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Some species hibernate through our cold winters and others like the Eastern Red Bat, Hoary Bat, and Silver-Haired Bat, take the snowbird route and head south.

All the bats in South Dakota are bug eaters. They eat tons of mosquitoes alone every year. And good for them, that's free pest control. They can eat as much as half their body weight a night.

Threats to bat populations in South Dakota include the destruction of habitat. When they lose their nesting places the migratory bats tend not to return and the others move away and do not eat the bugs.

Also, a disease called White-Nose Syndrome is killing hibernating bats. It's caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Pd thrives in the cold and causes skin infections in bats hibernating in cold and damp places, like cavesThe disease has killed over five million bats.

Bats are fascinating creatures, and as more knowledge is gained we learn more about how important they are to South Dakota.

Bats that Call South Dakota Home
Townsend's Big Earred Bat (US(PHOTO: Getty/Thinkstock/Canva)

Bats Commonly Found in South Dakota

  • Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
  • Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus)
  • Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
  • Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis)
  • Fringed Myotis (Myotis thysanodes)
  • Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
  • Long-eared (Myotis Myotis evotis)
  • Long-legged Myotis (Myotis volans)
  • Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis)
  • Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)
  • Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii)
  • Western Small-footed Myotis (Myotis ciliolabrum)

South Dakota Is Home to Two of the World’s Biggest Caves

When you're looking for some of the biggest ones of these on the planet, look no further than South Dakota.

You'll find them right under your nose.
Statista has compiled a list of the longest caves in the world and two of the top six are just 30 miles apart in the Black Hills.

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