Without bats, say goodbye to bananas, avocados and mangoes. Over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. Bats help spread seeds for nuts, figs and cacao — the main ingredient in chocolate. Without bats, we also wouldn’t have plants like agave or the iconic saguaro cactus. Just like a hummingbird, the lesser long-nosed bat can hover at flowers, using its 3-inch long tongue — equal to its body length — to feed on nectar in desert environments. Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International. From the US Department of the Interior blog.
Night insects have the most to fear from bats. Each night, bats can eat their body weight or more in insects, numbering in the thousands! And because bats eat so many insects — which have exoskeletons made of a shiny material called chitin — some bat poop sparkles (cool but weird fact, we know)! This insect-heavy diet helps farmers protect their crops from pests and lowers the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria. The endangered Indiana bat, which weighs about three pennies, consumes up to half its bulk every evening. Photo by Andrew King, USFWS. From the US Department of the Interior blog.