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Can bats keep pecan pests under control? Oklahoma researchers are finding out

Pecans are grown in 60 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.
Todd Johnson
/
OSU Agricultural Communications Services
Pecans are grown in 60 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.

Researchers installed nine bat houses in pecan orchards on the institute’s Red River Ranch and Conrad-McMillan Pecan Farm to find if bats can reduce the need for pesticides.

Halloween is over but it’s about to get spookier at the Noble Research Institute.

Researchers installed nine bat houses in pecan orchards on the institute’s Red River Ranch and Conrad-McMillan Pecan Farm to find if bats can reduce the need for pesticides. Unlike other creatures of the night, bats eat insects, pollinate plants and help make healthy ecosystems.

Oklahoma produces 17 million pounds of pecans annually. It takes about seven months to grow a pecan crop and during that time, weather conditions can usher insects impacting farmers profitability, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

The institute’s researchers said in a release up to 200 bats can live in a bat house on the orchards, so there is potential for them to eat pests like pecan nut casebearer moths. The study is part of the institute’s regenerative agriculture efforts.

Drought and freezes reduced the crop for the past couple of years but this fall, experts predict an above-average harvest.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Copyright 2023 KGOU. To see more, visit KGOU.

Anna Pope
OPMX