Posts Tagged: bats
Bats are pollinators? Definitely. According to the USDA Forest Service, more than 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. The crops include mangos, bananas and guavas, grown in tropical and desert climates. While bees take the daytime pollinator shift, bats take the nighttime shift.
Entomologists and agriculturists think about bats a lot, too, because bats eat insects that ravage our crops.
Someone who really knows and appreciates bats is Yolo County Farm Advisor Rachael Freeman Long. "I've had a long time interest in ecosystem services of bats because they feed on insects and can help with pest control in agricultural crops," Long said. "For example, we just determined that in walnuts, each bat provides about $6 in pest control services for codling moth control, a major pest in this crop (Long RF et al. 2014. What's a bat worth to a walnut orchard? BATS Magazine [Bat Conservation International] Spring 2014)."
A person of many interests and talents, Long has also written a children's book that features bats.
In honor of bats, The Avid Reader, 617 2nd St., Davis, between E and F St., is planning a special program from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22. Long will be there for the book signing, and talk about her book, and Corky Quirk of Nor Cal Bats will be there with her live bats and talk about their importance in the world. The organization is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of bats throughout Northern California.
"My interest in writing this trilogy is science literacy for kids to teach them about the natural history of bats and the incredible importance of bats in our world for pollination and pest control benefits," Long said. "Bats are major pollinators of many plants; without bats we wouldn't have tequila as they are the main pollinators of the agave plant from which tequila is made!"
"In my stories, we learn all kinds of wonderful tidbits about bats, including echolocation, migration, that they feed on insects and that 'blind as a bat' is a total myth. I'll have to talk about their shiny poop in my third book with all the insect exoskeleton parts that bats can't digest and the fancy name of guano!"
Long recalls telling these stories to her son, when he was little, "on our long drives into town from our ranch."
"He loved them so much that one day I finally decided to write them down to share with other children--and adults too!!"
Sadly, bats often get a bad rap. When a person is mentally unstable, he's "batty" or has "bats in the belfry." Visual issues? "Blind as a bat." And who hasn't heard the expression, "like a bat out of hell?" (usually referring to a speeding car heading toward you at breakneck speed).
In Long's book, a little boy named Jack falls into a cave and loses his memory. We won't tell you what happens next but that the book is engaging and entertaining.
Just like bats.
Rachael Long beneath the Yolo Causeway with a bat detector. Notice the bats in the photo. (Photo courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation)