URBANA, Ill. — Fluttering overhead at night, quiet except for their squeaks, bats can be easily overlooked, but these small mammals play a big role in the ecosystem. Bats are also at risk. Illinois is home to 13 species of bats, and more than half of them are listed as endangered, threatened by changing landscapes, disease, climate change and more.

Landowners and homeowners with trees on their property can help support bats with tips from the guide Managing Forests for Bats in Illinois, available for free at here.

Joy O’Keefe helped author the guide. Her research focuses on helping bats and humans coexist, and she works with those who interact with them — anyone from private landowners to federal and state agencies — to help support populations.

“Bats are fascinating and unique mammals, but we know they are in peril in the U.S. and worldwide because of habitat loss, disease, climate change, and more,” says O’Keefe, assistant professor, department of natural resources and environmental sciences and wildlife extension specialist. “With this guide, we hope to help landowners feel confident taking steps with their trees to support bats.”

The new guide outlines simple ways to manage trees or a forest for bats. Tips include preserving dead and damaged trees to provide roosts, maintaining native tree diversity, and adding native shrubs to provide foraging habitat. By eating insects such as flies, moths, and beetles, bats reduce insect populations and help protect young trees.

Both individual trees and large tracts of forest, like those found in Southern Illinois, can provide habitat or food sources for bats.

“Bats are an amazing group of wildlife that use Illinois forests and landowners can really support them,” says Evans, Forestry Extension and Research Specialist. “Even a few small changes to a forest can have a huge impact on improving bat habitat.”

The guide was developed in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was authored by O’Keefe, Evans, Johhny Baakliny, University of Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Matthew Mangan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Community-wide control programs work best. “Everyone has a role to play in minimizing mosquito population,” Enroth says.

Find more information about bats in Illinois here

SOURCE: Joy O’Keefe, assistant professor Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and Wildlife Extension Specialist; Christopher Evans, Forestry Extension and Research Specialist.
WRITER: Emily Steele, Media Communications Manager, Illinois Extension  
INTERVIEWS: Contact Dolan Klein at or (217) 333-7958 to request specialist interviews on this topic.

ABOUT EXTENSION: llinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. 

Controlling Mosquitoes on your Property

Mosquitoes are already out in force this season. How can we protect ourselves and our families and still enjoy the outdoors?

“Humans are mosquito magnets,” says University of Illinois Extension educator Chris Enroth. “Not only are forgotten plastic kiddie pools in the backyard good for mosquito breeding, we also attract mosquitoes simply by being living, breathing mammals.”

Personal protection
What makes one person more attractive to mosquitoes than others? Enroth says mosquitoes can’t resist the following:

  • Carbon dioxide: “Yes, every time you exhale, you draw those pesky little blood-suckers closer,” Enroth says.
  • Lactic acid: Humans produce lactic acid on our skin. Some produce more than others.
  • High skin temperature
  • Colognes and perfumes
  • Dark-colored clothing
  • Warm days with low winds. “Mosquitoes are pretty lousy fliers, so cool days with high winds (over 10 mph) reduce their activity. Placing a fan facing an outdoor seating area will keep them at bay,” Enroth says.
  • Studies have also indicated that some people are just more desirable than others. Due to the complexity of factors that can play into this, researchers are unsure why exactly this is.

The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends DEET as the most effective chemical to use to combat mosquitoes. Look for sprays with DEET at 40% or higher for an effective, long-lasting repellants Be sure to re-apply every 4-6 hours. DEET confuses the mosquito and blocks the females’ ability to detect carbon dioxide, heat, moisture, and human sweat.

Avoidance is only part of the strategy. Controlling mosquito populations though habitat reduction and backyard treatments is another strategy to minimize bites.

Breeding sites
“Only female mosquitoes bite,” Enroth says. This is because they need a blood meal (protein) for reproduction. Once she has fed, the female will search out a favorable site to lay her eggs. Anything that holds stagnant water is her target. Preventing her offspring from developing into adult mosquitoes is the most effective control. Enroth suggests the following strategies to eliminate breeding sites:

  • Remove any object on your property that may hold water. For example, tin cans, toys, flowerpot saucers, stagnant pools, and the notorious old tire in the backyard.
  • Change water in birdbaths weekly
  • Stock garden ponds with top-feeding minnows
  • Make sure covers are tight and free of holes over grills, cisterns, rain barrels, or anywhere water is stored
  • Clean your gutters. This is often the unseen area for mosquito development. Enroth recommends cleaning out gutters in the fall and spring.
  • If you can’t remove the standing water, Enroth recommends treating it with Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis). Bti only targets the larva of mosquitoes and a few species of fly.

Controlling adult mosquitoes

 “Avoid using bug zappers to control flying adults,” Enroth says. “About 90% of insects killed with bug zappers are not mosquitoes. In fact several are beneficial insects like the brown lacewing.”

Mosquito foggers work for only a short period of time and are well-suited to being used prior to an outdoor event.

Community-wide control programs work best. “Everyone has a role to play in minimizing mosquito population,” Enroth says.

To prevent getting bitten by female mosquitoes and to minimize the spread of West Nile Virus, Illinoisans should follow the recommendations above for reducing habitat and personal protection.

Source/news writer:

Chris Enroth,

University of Illinois Extension


Master Gardeners are ready to answer your call 

The Boone County Master Gardeners offer a free service answering garden questions at their Horticulture Help Desk.  Master Gardeners research topics about insects, trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, fruits, gardens, lawns, and more.  They provide research-based answers to questions, and take time to find the information you need for your specific circumstance.

At this time of social distancing, the Master Gardeners are volunteering remotely  and can be reached via email at   Homeowners are encouraged to email photos of their troubled plants, trees, shrubs, insects, etc. to help the Master Gardeners with their research.

Visit our Extension website for Boone, DeKalb and Ogle County for information on upcoming events at  If you have specific questions about the Master Gardener program, please contact Judy Hodge, Extension Program Coordinator at


Shop Local, a directory of direct-from-the-farm sellers, farmers’ markets and agritourism businesses, is available online.

Provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau® and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, the directory contains contact information and locations for more than 900 individual growers of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout Illinois. The directory also provides consumers with farms’ contact information, products available, method of sale, and a complete list of all community farmers markets and agritourism businesses in Illinois, searchable by city, county, or zip code. 

This directory helps consumers support local farmers and buy farm-fresh produce and products at farms and farmers markets across the state.  Shop Local has become a great source for retailers as well looking to find growers to provide product for restaurants, grocery stores, and schools, among others.

Growers interested in adding their names and businesses to Shop Local may register by visiting the Shop Local page of the Illinois Specialty Growers website. Contact the Illinois Speciatly Growers with additional questions at