Q&AZ: Is There Still An Active Bat Colony On ASU’s Campus?

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Saturday, November 24, 2018 - 5:05am
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 11:52am

Arizona has the second largest number of bat species in the United States, behind Texas. A KJZZ listener remembered seeing these flying mammals on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus and asked about their fate via Q&AZ.

Thousands of bats still call ASU home and Deborah Thirkhill, the university’s coordinator for ground services and arboretum, knows them well.

“At night you’ll see the bats making a circle around the lights because the insects come to the lights,” Thirkhill said. “They'll make a real quick circle around the light and then… you see it and say ‘Oh! Was that a bat?’”

Thirkhill said most students and staff don’t notice the bats. One time she was watching a group of 30 bats leave their roost at the psychology building.

“They flew right over the heads of the students that were waiting for the shuttle and I thought ‘oh my gosh they’re going to look up and start freaking out’ and they had no idea,” she said. “The bats flew silently over their heads and out and onto campus.”

ASU bats roost on campus between August and May, but leave for cooler canal tunnels in the summer months.

Thirkhill says the best place to spot a Sun Devil bat is outside the Psychology or Interdisciplinary B building at dusk.