The Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) and the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) as a Biological Pest Control for the Adult Female Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella) in Illinois Apple Orchards
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Apple orchard famers have difficulty producing a market-accepted product without heavy use of insecticides to control apple orchard pest insects. Sustainable agricultural methods enable naturally beneficial processes to arise, generating both economic and environmental benefits. Integrated pest management (IPM) is one method of sustainable agriculture that incorporates the use of chemical and biological methods to control agricultural pests. Insectivorous bats are often overlooked as a biological arthropod predator. The big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) and the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) are of the most populous and distributed bat species in North America which can be attributed to their ability to utilize man-made structures and their relative disregard for human disturbance. These attributes make these natural pest predators an easily recruited aspect of an IPM strategy. The most loathed apple orchard pest is the codling moth (Cydia pomonella). E. fuscus and M. lucifugus have the capacity to be a substantial suppressant of C. pomonella’s adult form because, like both bat species, it is most active around sunset. Through the examination of published research, E. fuscus’s and M. lucifugus’s diet compositions were evaluated by determining percent volume of each insect order consumed. This study specifically evaluates the consumption of adult female C. pomonella and the corresponding reduction of C. pomonella larvae which resulted from the consumption of adult female C. pomonella in an apple orchard. E. fuscus’s dietary inclination for beetles made it less effective as a suppressant of C. pomonella than M. lucifugus. M. lucifugus’s diversified diet allowed consumption of C. pomonella at a higher rate than E. fuscus despite the larger body mass of E. fuscus. These findings suggest that the incorporation of bats into apple orchard pest management strategy holds potential environmental and economic benefit due to the potential of decreased pesticide applications.