Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Other Pollinators

     Although bees are the major pollinators of the world there are many other species involved in pollination.  Insects such as butterflies, moths, beetles, ants and fruit flies are essential for the pollination of specific plants.  Also, many birds pollinate like the hummingbird, honeyeaters and sunbirds.  Other vertebrates like monkeys, lemurs, possums, rodents, lizards and even humans are responsible for some pollination.  In North America desert plants like the agave and giant cacti depend on bats for pollination.  In the tropics bats pollinate a wide variety of plants like cashew, cloves, durian, carob, balsa wood, bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches and mangoes.
     In Canada and the United States bats are especially important in the control of the insect population.  A single brown bat can consume 1000 mosquito sized insects in an hour.  As many of these insects damage commercial food crops the presence of bats reduces the amount of pesticides required.
     Bat populations in Canada and throughout the world are declining for many reasons including loss of habitat.  According to Louie Swartzberg, a pioneer of high-end time-lapse cinematography (The Hidden Beauty of Pollination) "beauty and seduction are nature's tool for survival because we protect what we fall in love with".  Although I think bats are beautiful most people don't and it's for that reason they especially need our protection.
     The United Nations has declared 2011-2012 International Year of the Bat.  Visit Bat Conservation International to find out more about bats.


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