The largest colony of bats in the world makes it home a mere 45 minutes away from downtown San Antonio at the Bracken Cave. Each year from March to October, the 15–20 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the cave for three to four hours of feeding. The insects they eat keep crop pest populations low, which helps local farmers.

Bat emergences like at the Bracken Cave can be seen at 10 different locations around Texas including Stuart Bat Cave at Kickapoo Cavern State ParkDevil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, and Old Tunnel State Park, to name a few.

Two years ago the Bracken Cave preserve was being threatened by a 1,500-acre housing development. Bat advocacy organization Bat Conservation International teamed up with the Texas Nature Conservancy, the City of San Antonio, and Bexar County to purchase the land, so it is now indefinitely protected.

If you’re a Bat Conservation International member you can visit the Bracken Cave on special member nights from now until the end of October.

Top image: The Bracken Bats fly from their cave for 3-4 hours of feeding.  Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

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Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone is a California native and a graduate of the University of Oregon. She moved to San Antonio in December 2015 to join The Rivard Report team as photographer and videographer.