Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 18:29:27 -0500
Source: The Times, August 5 1998
Via: Martin Hugh-Jones
Drug laden cowpats are threatening the survival of one of Britain's
most endangered species of bat, it is claimed, because the pats no
longer contain the rich supply of dung beetles and other insects that
are an important source of food for the greater horseshoe bat [Bat
News, the newsletter of the Bat Conservation Trust].
A vital component of the bats' diet is one species of dung beetle,
_Aphodius rufipes_, which favours fresh pats. As many as one hundred
beetle larvae, providing many meals for infant bats when they hatch
and fly, can be found developing in a single pat.
David Appleton, working on behalf of the environmental group English
Nature, recently toured farms in the West Country close to the
maternal roosts of bats trying to persuade farmers not to use wormers
based on the avermectin group of chemicals - which are believed to be
causing the damage. Apparently avermectin renders the pats lethal for
beetle larvae for up to 120 days. Mr Appleton told Bat News: "The
female dung beetles can lay their eggs on it but the young die."
It is estimated that there are only about 4,000 greater horseshoe bats
left in Britain, mainly in the West Country.
[Written by: MICHAEL HORNSBY]
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