Say hello to Minnesota's first new bat species in more than a century

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People discovered a brand new bat species in Minnesota – the first time that's happened in more than a century.

The Nycticeius humeralis bat – or the "evening bat" – was caught in early July at the Minnesota Army National Guard's Training Site in Arden Hills, the state Department of Natural Resources said Monday.

"It’s very exciting to discover a new bat species in the state," DNR endangered species coordinator Rich Baker said in the news release.

Finding a mammal species that's new to Minnesota is "extremely rare," the DNR says, noting the most recent before this was a shrew back in 1991.

Researchers with the DNR and Central Lakes College, who found the evening bat while conducting a study looking at the summer breeding habits of bats, plan to keep an eye out for more evening bats.

"For now, we don’t know if this was an isolated individual blown north in a storm, or if this species has indeed expanded its range into Minnesota," Baker said.

It's not clear what kind of effect the bats could have if they have extended their range to Minnesota, but Baker told the Star Tribune that it's probably good news for anyone who is sick of bugs in the summer.

Minnesota is home to seven bat species, the DNR's website says. All of the species are small, weighing from two-tenths of an ounce to a little more than an ounce, and typically eat flying insects like beetles, moths and mosquitoes.

More on the evening bat

Evening bats tend to not live farther north than central Iowa, the DNR says. According to Bat Conservation International, the species is "abundant" throughout the southeastern United States, noting its range stretches from Veracruz, Mexico, to the upper Midwest and Ontario, Canada.

Bat Conservation International calls the evening bat a "true forest bat" that's "almost never" found in caves. Instead the mammal lives in hollow trees, behind loose bark and sometimes in buildings and attics.

The bats tend to migrate to the southern parts of its range in the fall. The Smithsonian notes only the females migrate north in the summer, while the males remain in the warm southern states all year.

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