If you ate today, thank a bat!
Yes, that’s right.
The supposedly terrifying flying creatures of the night are most likely responsible for the production of several of the foods that you probably put in your mouth, just this week.
Like bees, butterflies, moths, and birds, bats are very important pollinators. However, unlike many of their pollinating friends, most people disregard bats, despite the fact that they make up roughly one fourth of all mammals on Earth.
In fact, not only are bats numerous (we know of over 1300 different species of bats), but they hold many, many different jobs, including consumption of thousands of insects every night, propagation of entire rainforests through seed dispersal, and pollination of over 300 plants, including: bananas, mangos, avocados, and guavas. Bats are actually the only known pollinator of the agave plant which is the main ingredient in tequila. So if you enjoy margaritas, you should be very grateful for our bat friends!
Furthermore, a recent study published by The Royal Society found that 35% of global food production comes from major crops pollinated by animals (primarily bats)! Of that, about 20% of those crops were fruits and vegetables while the remaining 15% were seeds.
In addition to pollination, bats also protect our crops by eating insects. Bats can eat their entire body weight in insects every night, and especially enjoy those pesky moths and beetles that eat our fruits and vegetables. Scientists at Boston University have estimated that bats save American farmers around $22.9 billion annually. That means we’re saving a lot of money on pesticide usage and making the food we eat every day healthier for us.
So the next time you sit down for a meal, take a moment and show your gratitude to bats.
Thanks to them eating their favorite foods, we can eat ours. Cheers!
~Celia Montemurri, OBC Intern