Insectivorous bats are major predators of nocturnal insects and have the potential to act as biological pest control agents in farmlands. The objective of the present study was to establish the diet of the guano bat, Tadarida plicata. The study was carried out at the Khao Chong Pran Cave, which houses 2.6 million bats, and is surrounded by rice fields. A total of 1,925 faecal pellets were collected from 385 bats during their morning return from January to December 2002. Faecal analysis indicated that T. plicata fed on at least nine insect orders: Homoptera (28.4%), Lepidoptera (20.8), Hemiptera (16.4), Coleoptera (14.4), Diptera (7.0), Hymenoptera (6.6), Odonata (6.0), Orthoptera (0.5) and Psocoptera (0.1). Light traps indicated that Coleoptera (41.2%), Homoptera (25.3), Hemiptera (18.8) and Diptera (12.7) were the most abundant insects in the study area. Homopterans, most of which were white-backed planthopper (Sogatella sp., Delphacidae) had the highest percentage frequency of occurrence in the bats' diet indicating that T. plicata potentially plays an important role in controlling this major crop pest. The presence of macropterous planthoppers and a large proportion of moths in its diet suggests that T. plicata feeds on windborne migrant insects at high altitude. Female bats fed significantly more on lepidopterans and coleopterans and less on damselflies than males. The diet diversity index of lactating females was higher than pregnant females. Diet did not differ significantly between the dry and rainy seasons for either sex.
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