Today is National Margarita Day! You may be wondering what that has to do with Your True Nature and we did too, at first. Well, it involves Margaritas and Bats intertwining to create an amazing story of Nature. You couldn’t have an icy cold Margarita without Tequila and you couldn’t have Tequila without the Blue Agave plant (Agave tequilana). Important to the Blue Agave is the long misunderstood Bat and his need to pollinate certain plants.
A blooming Agave tequilana opens its flowers at night, releasing a putrid rotten aroma. This smell attracts the Bats to come in and, with their long tongues, drink the sweet nectar. While sipping, they get dusted with the plant’s pollen, which they in turn transport to the other agave plants. In the process the Bats are spreading seeds, allowing new Agave to continue growing.
Unfortunately, today many industrial Tequila producers are using faster techniques to grow their Agave plants. This actually takes away the need for the plant to flower and be pollinated. Some claim the Tequila quality isn’t as good, and the plants become more susceptible to fungus, bacteria, and disease. The pollination from the Bats seems to increase the Agave’s ability to resist such problems. If more and more Tequila producers switch to a speedier production process, Bats will continue to lose an important food source. This is bad news for our ecosystem. Other facts about Bats are:
- 70% of bats consume insects, which is a huge part of our pest control (does anyone really like mosquitoes or bug spray?)
- Other bats eat fruit or nectar, which pollinates around 300 plants (avocados, bananas, etc). They are also one of the keys in dispersing seeds to regenerate a healthy rain forest.
- Bat droppings (guano) are amazing fertilizers, just ask Texas. Guano was their largest mineral export before oil was found.
- Bats can fly as fast as 60mph and they are the only mammal that can fly! Not important to us, but cool....especially for a certain Superhero.
So, before you shudder with fear when you see a bat; stop and admire their importance. Harmful myths have been passed down for years, making this mammal despised (with the exception of Batman of course). There are only three species of Vampire bats, which live off the blood (equivalent to a spoonful) of other animals and none of those are in the United States. The bats most of us see don’t want our blood, they’re here for the pesky insects and plant nectar. Also only 5-6% have rabies and are usually caught before spreading it, but you should never pick a bat up anyway.
It’s important for us to protect this species before it’s too late. Things you could do are plant night blooming plants in your yard, install a bat box for them to roost in, don’t use chemicals or pesticides on your garden, and help preserve open spaces/natural areas. The more wilderness we tear down to develop, the more bats and other species suffer. Bats need natural areas to hunt insects and live in.
Let’s face it, this mammal is pretty amazing, which is why Your True Nature has a product dedicated to the advice it provides: