Although many would consider them to be a frightening pest, bats are incredibly important to our surrounding environments. Not only do bats play an important environmental role around the world, their diets and behaviors have also provided mankind with several benefits as well.
Continue reading to learn the true ecological importance of bats, including how they positively impact our land and our lives.
Insect Control and Farming Benefits
Microchiroptera (microbats) are insectivores, meaning they primarily feed on insects such as mosquitoes, flies, gnats, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, termites, and even wasps. A single microbe that can consume more than 1000 insects in just one night. Multiply that number times the quantity about populations in a community, and you have yourself a built-in pest control system, free of charge at the courtesy of bats.
They feed heavily on our local insect populations every night, allowing us to have more comfortable backyard living areas, more enjoyable outdoor fun and activity, and less spread of disease and crop mutilation. In terms of reduced crop mutilation, you can also give bats credit for supporting our local economies among farmers, vendors, and consumers. Farmers have also been known to use bat droppings, also called “guano”, to fertilize their land and grow their crops. In fact, guano mining is a significant enterprise in the agricultural industry, worldwide.
Pollination and Seed Dispersal
Megachiroptera (megabats) are frugivorous, meaning they primarily feed on the pollen and nectar of fruits and flowers. This diet behavior provides a significant benefit ecologically and agriculturally by means of pollination and seed dispersal. Not only does the action of acquiring the nectar and pollen from plants promote cross-fertilization, the act of digesting and eliminating their food greatly supports seed dispersion of other plants and flowers, especially fruiting trees in the tropics. On a side note, some cultures around the world eat fruit bats, making them a means of nutrition.
Currently, vampire bat species are an important focus in the medical research industry because their saliva contains an anticoagulant protein called “Desmoteplase” that researchers speculate can be used as medicine for stroke patients and blood clot prevention in humans.
Many wildlife preserves that house species of bats are popular attractions for tourists and travelers around the world. The enterprise of ecotourism brings money into communities, thus supporting the local economy and the preservation of local wildlife and that species.