On All Hallows’ Eve, a creature emerges from the darkness. Visions of Dracula, blood dripping fangs, and fluttering wings all spring to mind, but in actuality it’s just a simple bat. Bats are small, meek mammals that we can’t live without, so maybe we need to change our point-of-view and see them in a new light.
In the dark of night, when no one is around, bats are doing a lot for our ecosystem. Not only do they eat bugs, they also pollinate and transfer seeds to degrading forests.
There are many plants and fruits that depend on bats. According to a Queen Bee Farms article, “528 plants have been identified as being pollinated by extra feeding bats, in which 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination, including mangoes, bananas, cacao, peaches, cloves, and agave.” If bat populations continue to decline, these fruits and plants will start to disappear. As the fruits don’t get pollinated by the bats, they will not be able to grow, leaving the plants useless. This would then lead to different types of fruit becoming extinct, which could result in countries losing money as some make millions on the deportation of fruits around the world.
The biggest threat to bats is not any natural predator but a disease called “white nose syndrome.” The disease affects the nose and wings of the bat with a white fungus, which is where the white nose syndrome name comes from. The U.S Department of the Interior has said that “the disease… affects hibernating bats and has been detected in 37 [U.S.] states and 7 Canadian provinces.” At this point there is no specific cure for white nose syndrome. This is a huge issue because it has killed over 90% of the northern long eared, little brown and tri-coloured bats in the past decade.
One of the contributors to this disease are humans. As people enter caves and old mines, it disturbs the bats and can increase the likeliness of the bats getting white nose syndrome. “Keeping all but essential human activity out of caves also… reduces disturbance of vulnerable and roosting bats,” says Biological Diversity. Obviously this disease is a large contributor to the decline in bat populations, so it needs to be dealt with so these bats do not continue to die. There needs to be more research into this disease so a cure can be found as well as educating people on the dangers that will occur if they continue to die.
As everyone knows, bats eat lots of bugs. There are some bats they can eat up to 20,000 bugs in a single night! As they eat these insects, they are also helping the farmers. As said in the Daily Commercial, “[Bats] have been known to reduce populations of harmful insects in farming communities, thus lessening the need for pesticides.” Lots of the insects they eat can be potentially harmful to crops, so without these bats, the crops could be largely affected. This would also lead to smaller crops and less food being produced as well. In addition to affecting people’s food supply, the small crops and less food would mean that there is less for the farmers to sell.
Bats have been given a bad rap as blood sucking scary creatures, which is why they are associated with Halloween. People often look past the good that bats do and look directly at how they are considered creepy creatures.
People often look past the good that bats do and look directly at how they are considered creepy creatures.
Not only are bats associated with Halloween, October is also Bat Appreciation Month. National Today says that bat month should be greatly celebrated because of the misconceptions towards the species as a whole. People often look past the good that bats do and look directly at how they are considered creepy creatures. In addition to Bat Appreciation Month, there is also a Bat Week in October. In 2021, the dates for bat week are from October 24 to the 31.
Speaking of Halloween, let’s connect the dots between bats and chocolate: cacao gets its seeds spread by the bats and if the bat population is reduced, the cacao seeds would not get spread leading to less cacao trees being produced. So, logic dictates that chocolate bars would be at risk if there is not enough cacao grown and what would then happen to trick-or-treating?
Without bats the world would be much different. From less fruits being produced to chocolate vanishing, bats have a very important role for our environment and ecosystem. We need to work together and find solutions for the ever growing decline of our favourite Halloween creatures because the scariest thing overall would be if bats disappeared.
Photo courtesy of WallpaperAccess