The only mammal capable of winged flight, there are over 1,400 species of bats documented across six continents. Here in Minnesota, according to the DNR, we are home to eight of those species.

This #SpookySZN we are highlighting some of the Minnesota critters that some people find a little on the spooky side but are actually pretty awesome once you know a little more about them.

As they fly, bats use echolocation, or constant emitting of supersonic cries (that humans can’t hear) that bounce off objects and return echoes that are picked up by their ears. Echolocation enables bats to locate insects and avoid collisions.

Bats benefit ecosystems around the globe in many ways. In warmer climates, bats enable plant pollination along with propagation through seed dispersal. In Minnesota, bats help keep our mosquito population down with their ravenous appetites. Bats can consume their body weight, up to 1,500 mosquito-sized insects, each night. Minnesota bats also help eliminate many agricultural pests that wreak havoc on crops and forests. The U.S. reaps an estimated $3 billion in ecosystem benefits from bats each year.

Despite the fact that beneficial bats are practically superheroes—think of all those mosquitos they save you from—some people find them a bit spooky.

Lottery dollars have helped researchers develop methods for keeping Minnesota bat populations healthy. These include preserving a bat hibernaculum (where bats overwinter) in St. Cloud; helping control white-nose syndrome, a fungus that has killed over 90% of hibernating bats in some areas in Minnesota; and identifying characteristics of successful artificial bat roost structures and optimizing the structures for bat use and reproduction.

This #SpookySZN, play Universal Monsters scratch tickets featuring seven different creepy characters at your favorite lottery retailer for your chance at winning $100,000.

Every time you play the lottery you help support bats and other Minnesota wildlife through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Learn more about lottery beneficiaries here.