The warm weather has activated the state's legendary hordes.

Bats exit a manmade cave in Texas' Bamberger Ranch Preserve. (USFWS/Ann Froschauer)

How's the weather in Texas? One might say hairy, fluttering, and filled with a cacophony of high-pitched shrieking.

A warm spell has hit Texas, and it's triggered restlessness not just among joggers and cyclists. Over in the western part of the state, huge swarms of bats are taking off and chasing bugs in the night sky. These groupings are so large they appear almost like rain storms on Doppler, as recently demonstrated above the cave-dotted savanna of the Edwards Plateau.

An Air Force-base radar spotted one colony emerging around 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, 33 miles northwest of Del Rio. It's the blue-green jellyfish shown here attacking the U.S./Mexican border:

Austin/San Antonio NWS

About 15 minutes later, another colony awoke and soared off into the sunset. It appeared on radar as an overturned, aquamarine crescent moon south of Carta Valley:

Austin/San Antonio NWS

As anyone who's been dive-bombed by bats at Austin's airport knows, great numbers of the furry fliers have picked Texas for their seasonal hunting grounds. Austin's under-the-bridge bats are legendary, and the biggest bat colony on earth swoops into Bracken Cave near San Antonio every spring. (With roughly 20 million bats, it's said to be one of the largest accumulations of mammals in the world.)

The animals help the locals manage mosquitoes and other pests—the Bracken multitude can eat 140 tons of insects in one night—and in return the locals extend their own occasional favor. Last year, for instance, conservationists scuttled plans for a 3,500-home subdivision outside San Antonio, fearing its street lights might disrupt the squeaking hordes. As one of the people involved said: "We would have had hundreds of bats congregating on the porches, around street lights, around swimming pools."

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  4. A participant holding a Defund Police sign at the protest in Brooklyn.
    Equity

    To Defund the Police, Activists Rewrote City Budgets

    As national protesters call for defunding police, a movement for anti-racist “people’s budgets” is spreading from LA to Nashville to Grand Rapids.

  5. Four New York City police officers arresting a man.
    Equity

    The Price of Defunding the Police

    A new report fleshes out the controversial demand to cut police department budgets and reallocate those funds into healthcare, housing, jobs, and schools. Will that make communities of color safer?

×