You Can Thank Bats for Your Tequila

Did you know that without bats there would be no tequila? Well, at the very least, there’d be far less of it. That’s because Lesser Long-Nosed bats are the main pollinator of Agave angustifolia (the mezcal plant) & A. tequilana (the tequila plant), giving them a crucial role in the two plants’ survival. The small bat species generally range from Mexico to the southern regions of Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas during migration season. Their numbers had taken an alarming nosedive, landing them on the Endangered Species list and causing real concern among Mexico’s tequila manufacturers. But thanks to conservation efforts in recent years, the species is back on the rise and tequila is safe — for the time being, anyways.

tequila
Photo: Pixabay/mochilazocultural

Tequila

This is great news for tequila makers and drinkers. But before you get too excited, it’s important to note that the bats haven’t been removed from the list, so we’re not out of the woods yet. In truth, we are losing some of our most important pollinators, including dwindling numbers of bees. Without pollination, we are in a world of hurt. Yes, scientists are looking at ways to combat the problem before it becomes a full-blown disaster, but do we really want tiny manmade drones designed to resemble and do bees’ jobs if we can help it? It’s too sci-fi to even think about but it could be on the way if we don’t adjust our thinking.

agave
Photo: Pixabay/RociH

Endangered Species List

According to the USDA Forest Service, “The Lesser Long-nosed Bat is federally listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The survival of both bats and their desert food plants are threatened by loss of habitat due to development, invasive annual grasses, and changes in fire regimes.” Everything we do or neglect to do has a butterfly effect. Bat pollination of cacti and agaves helps maintain healthy desert ecosystems. Healthy habitats and eco systems in turn provide us with better living conditions.

bat house
Photo: Pixabay/analogicus

Ways to Help

There are things we can all do to help improve the situation. First, we need to be mindful of the chemicals we use to control pests. Insecticides and poisons are going to be our own undoing if we’re not careful, so try to choose natural products whenever possible. Another way we can help our situation is to start providing bat houses for our fuzzy friends. Just one little brown bat is said to be able to easily catch 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour, and a nursing mother eats approximately 4,500 insects every night. How’s that for natural pest control? You can buy them online or look up how to DIY. Every little bit counts!

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