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When we think of pollination, it is usually the bees that come to mind. But the bat also plays a very important role in this process on a large scale, all over the world.
Some areas rely on bat pollination more than others, including Africa, Asia, and the Pacific islands.
Bats help the pollination of many types of fruit in the world such as bananas, mangoes and guavas. More than 500 different types of tropical plants are believed to be successfully pollinated each year by bats.
Bats are key to maintaining and expanding biodiversity, as they spread pollen considerable distances with their flight.
Bats tend to prefer flowers that do not emit strong odors or bright colors, the opposite of what attracts bees. These types of flowers have a large amount of nectar. Many experts believe that birds and bees take the day shift and bats take the night shift.
Bats do not have a long beak to obtain nectar from flowers, but they are also able to pollinate, through a very long tongue. When the bat is not using it, this tongue curls up into the body, below the rib cage.
Since many bats are migratory in nature, they can carry pollen on their bodies enormous distances. In addition, fruit eaters also spread seeds. With their movements, it is believed, they continually introduce new plants to various locations. Sometimes the growth is successful, other times it is not possible for these types of plants or flowers to grow in the new location.
Although we have some information about the role of bats and pollination, we do not know precisely the extent of it. The time for bats to come out is at night and there is a lot of activity going on under the radar.
If the bats are eliminated, the development of many plants, fruits and flowers in certain areas will be seriously hampered.
Furthermore, bats are also well known for keeping insects and critters away from crops. Tons of insects are eaten every year that destroy crops. Some of the creatures they consume are June beetles, bed bugs, and corn worm moths. Without their help, the use of harmful pesticides would increase significantly and be dangerous for humans.