Bats! The “Other” Pollinator That Needs Our Help!
Remove the fear factor and bats are incredibly important!
Bats are important pollinators, yet they are often forgotten or fear displaces their importance. Of 1300+ species of bats, about 40 are found in the United States. All the species of bats benefit people.
Bats are voracious insectivores! In a single summer night, the Bracken Cave bats in Texas can eat over 20 tons of insects! (Source: National Wildlife Federation). Even if where you live does not provide a home for the millions of bats that live in Bracken Cave, you can be sure bats are helping to control the flying insect population nightly.
Many delicious crops also depend on bats for pollination, too! Do you like mangos, bananas, or avocados? How about figs, cashews, or carob? Tequila? Bats pollinate the agave plants used to make this spirit. In fact, all these foods depend on bats to pollinate the plants they come from. Bats are very important pollinators in tropical and desert climates. (Sources: above)
Not only do bats pollinate tropical plants, but they also serve as a seed dispersal system. Bats are instrumental in the reforestation of tropical areas. By eating fruits and depositing the seeds with their guano (excrement), existing plants are fertilized, and new seeds are sown.
Bats are mammals — the only ones to fly! They have all the characteristics of mammals but also possess adaptations such as wings, extremely sensitive ears, and noses and mouths that serve as specialized tools to extract food from flowers or catch insects. In short, bats are amazing creatures.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen one bat this year. Usually, we’ll see a few at our cabin, flying at around dusk when they start their nightly hunt for insects. But this year? None. And we’ve been living at our cabin for three months now.