Sunday, September 9, 2007

Bats & Spiders - Oh My!

Oh how the Lord uses my children to grow me and change me! When I was blessed with my children I did not realize how much it would change me. Emily discussed some of this on her blog and I’m going to build on it and elaborate on it from my point of view. I call this God’s Character Building 101. I suppose 201 will come with grandchildren someday.

We still have Charlotte (see this post). She has laid a huge egg sack. I have not been able to find out how long they eggs will stay there. But I have read that when the little spider lings come out that they will build the parachute type web, climb up on something high (like a fence post) and fly away on the wind. Just like on Charlotte’s Web. I hope I get to see it. But the sad news is that Charlotte will probably die after this event takes place. And today as I walked by the shrubs in my front yard, I noticed at least a dozen spider webs with spiders in them. I guess the word got out in spider land that we allow spiders to live here and they’ve moved in. I’m okay with it as long as they stay outside.

Last week our local home school group announced a scheduled field trip to the Devil’s Sinkhole in Rocksprings, Texas, to see the bats emerge at sunset. This trip is a one hour drive each way. In our new science book there is a chapter on bats. We skipped right over and started studying bats and I signed up to take this field trip with the group. I learned that bats are not dangerous and don’t actually attack people. These little creatures eat tons of insects every night. Chase said, “If we didn’t have bats, it would be an all out war between people and insects.”

Chase waiting for the bats

The bats that we went to see are called Mexican Free-tailed bats or Brazilian Free-tail bats. The tour guide said that the name Mexican Free-tailed bat is commonly used here because they cross the Mexican border to get here. This particular species of bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) lives in colonies. They like the caves. Bats are mammals, give live birth and nurse their young. These bats migrate north in the spring after mating, then return south for winter (about October). The mothers have their pups (the term for baby bats) in the caves. These pups stay in the nursery for six weeks. Amazingly, the mothers know their own pup out of the millions of pups when they return to nurse. Then after six weeks, the pups learn to fly. Bats don’t have much lift on their wings so they have to drop or hop and start flapping. And they continue flapping their wings during flight.

The sinkhole we visited is 350 feet deep. The bats start stirring before sunset. I call it stirring because before they start flying out of the sinkhole, they fly in a counter clockwise circle out of the hole. When they come out, it looks a like a tornado and then they fly off in swarms toward the south. They feed on tons of moths every night.

I just stood in awe of God’s creation as I stood there and watched this. I stood there and allowed the bats to fly around me. Yet I did not squeal like the little girls in front of me. I saw some land on the deck in front of me and watch it hop and hop to try and get some lift to flap its little wings. They are as small as one of my hands. Some are a little bigger. I think the tour guide said there are estimated 4 billion, but maybe he said 4 million. This includes the mothers and pups. There are some males, but from what I understand they mostly stay south. I don’t know exactly how many there were, but lots of bats came out of that cave. I asked the tour guide when they stop and he said he has only been out as late as 11 pm and they were still coming out.

My husband is just in awe at how much I have changed lately. Before, I would have never allowed spiders to hang around or stand and watch bats fly all around me. God has used my children and His call on my life to home school them to change the way I see His creation. If I weren’t teaching my children at home, I would NEVER do the things I’ve been doing—like entertaining spiders and standing around the bats. I am certainly overcoming fear.

Having my children has certainly blessed me and they continue to bless me.

Psalm 127:3

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

3 gracious comments:

jen said...

Hey I've been there! Lol, and I got the same heebie-jeebie feeling seeing those pictures as I got when we were there! What an awesome home school lesson. And great pictures girl! All those bats... God is so so awesome to make such a unique creature. Thanks for sharing!

Leigh Gray said...

i would have squealled - not comfortable with all that!! Good for you!!! Leigh

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all the info. about the bats. God knew what He was doing when He created. It's really neat that bats eat a lot of insects. How that must help keep the insect population down!