Bats are worth their weight in gold, so to speak.

Overall, bats prevent $3.7 billion a year in crop damage and pesticide use in the U.S., according to Bat Conservation International, a group dedicated to promoting bats.

For example, cucumber beetles eat spinach and corn, and their larvae, corn rootworms, can reduce corn yields by up to 13 percent.

But a single big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), a species found in Idaho, can have a heavy impact on the rootworm population. The bat — one of the largest in the U.S. — weighs a mere .5 to 1.2 ounces. But agronomists estimate a colony of 150 big brown bats will eat 38,000 cucumber beetles in a single growing season, preventing the beetles from producing 18 million corn rootworms.

Corn rootworm control costs about $25 per acre to do what big brown bats do for free.

Bats are also important pollinators.

—Mychel Matthews

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