#Time4TheTalk: The Night Shift Bats and Moths

Now that you know the true story of the birds and bees and how important our pollinators are, it is time to pay special attention to the other, just as important pollinators.  After dark, moths and bats takeover the pollinator night shift.  Over 300 types of fruit including mangoes, bananas and guavas depend on bats for pollination as well as the Agave plant which is used to make tequila.  The yucca plant is dependent on the yucca moth for survival and continuation of yucca plants.  Both bats and moths are important pollinators, however they are both threatened and without them, many fruits and flowers will not thrive.

 

Bats are the only true flying mammals and are mostly nocturnal.  They are very important pollinators in desert and tropical climates and most are found in Southeast Asia, South Africa and the Pacific Islands.  Bats feed on the insects and nectar of flowers that open at night and usually white in color and very fragrant.  One bat may visit over 30 flowers in one night and transfers the pollen that sticks to its body from flower to flower.  The lesser-long nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat migrate north over a thousand miles each spring from Mexico to Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.  It is estimated that bats help pollinate over 500 plants per year.  Bats don’t have beaks like birds to pollinate, so instead they use their long tongues to gather nectar.  Bats are able to travel large distances, so they help spread plant diversity over wide ranges.  Some bats are able to use echolocation to not only hunt insects, but to also find nectar.  Bats help pollinate not only flowers, but also many agricultural crops, shrubs and cactuses. 

There are over 140,000 species of moths and butterflies and moths typically pollinate flowers that bloom at night, are pale in color and hold a lot of nectar. Flowers and plants frequently visited by moths include the morning glory, gardenia, and tobacco.  Most adult moths primarily feed on nectar and they have long tube-like tongues which they use to feed with. 

Both bats and moths are important pollinators, but they are severely threatened.  More than 50% of American bats are in severe decline or endangered.  The biggest threat to our pollinators is habitat destruction, as well as pesticides and climate change.  As pollinators decrease, the use of pesticides increases, causing devastating effects on our ecosystems and economy.  In some areas, people have been known to set fires to caves because of their fear of bats, killing thousands of roosting bats.  Air pollution, invasive species and disease are other threats to these animals.  We depend on these animals for pollination. Can you imagine a world without chocolate, bananas or peaches? In order to protect them, avoid using pesticides and chemicals in your yards, make your garden pollinator friendly, and keep areas clean of trash and litter. These are just a few things you can do to help out our pollinators, and with our help, they can continue to thrive and pollinate.

It's never to late to get involved and help us save the pollinators! A real easy way is to make #Time4TheTalk on social media!

Honeybees make long distance relationships work. They'll travel up to 5mi to feed on nectar & gather pollen! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Honeybees play the field, visiting 50-1000 flowers during a single collection trip. #Time4theTalk #ISF

Birds go for looks. Plants that use birds as pollinators typically have bright red, orange or yellow flowers! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Bumblebees know how to work smarter. Scent marking flowers to let others know the nectar is gone. #Time4theTalk #ISF

Want some breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Pick 2. Because bees pollinate 1/3 of the food you eat. 2 meals without honey bees! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Get batty! Did you know even bats help with pollination?! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Monarchs pollinate but need milk! Well, milkweed that is! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Save the planet, Save our Pollinators! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Go ahead, Google what Einstein said will happen if we lose honey bees… #Time4theTalk #ISF

Have YOU had the Talk? #Time4theTalk #ISF

Help decrease world hunger by making harvests better with happy pollinators! #Time4theTalk #IS

 

<*)))>< Stefanie

 

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/kidsbats.html

http://insects.about.com/od/BeneficialInsects/tp/7-Insect-Pollinators-that-Arent-Bees-Or-Butterflies.htm

**These photos were used with permission by owner.