There are so many pollinators in the world and each one of them is important.
My favorite pollinator? Bats!
Bats are known for their excellent pest control and seed dispersal, but many people don’t know they are also pollinators. Over 500 species of plants rely on bats for pollination. The Lesser Long Nosed Bat and the Mexican Long Tongued Bat are found in the southwestern U.S. all the way to Central America and are just a couple of the bat species working hard to provide us with some of the things we love.
Bats pollinate many of the fruits and nuts we eat such as avocado, cashew, coconut, mango, banana and guava. They also pollinate the cocoa plant that is used to make chocolate! Who doesn’t love an animal that helps bring us chocolate?
One of the more interesting plants they pollinate is the amazing Saguaro cactus found in the western part of the country. These cacti are the largest in the United States! They can live 150 to 200 years and reach heights of 40 to 60 feet. They are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Western Sonora, Mexico.
There is another interesting plant bats pollinate that provides a product many people are fond of. The Agave plant! This is the plant that is used to make tequila. If you have ever enjoyed a tasty margarita, you will certainly want to thank a bat! The agave is a desert succulent – not a cactus. It is found in hot, dry climates and requires very little water to survive. Not only is it a nectar source for bats, it is a food source for other pollinators as well.
How can you support our VIPs (Very Important Pollinators)? Become a Houston Zoo Pollinator Pal! Bring pictures, reports, or drawings of pollinators or your pollinator garden to the Swap Shop. You will be registered as a Pollinator Pal and earn points to spend in the shop!
Don’t know about the Swap Shop? Click here for more information.