| Story by Meghan McMahon |
Bats are one of the most prolific animals in the world, with more than 1,300 species living on six continents.
In all, Illinois boasts 12 species of bats, with eight known to live within the forest preserves of Will County.
These flying mammals play an essential role in the environment, consuming huge amounts of insects every night, including pesky mosquitoes and agricultural pests that can damage crops. In more far-flung locales, bats also pollinate plants.
Today, bats are threatened by both habitat destruction and disease. In the United States, white-nose syndrome, a fungal illness, has killed more than 5 million bats.