General News

Live Bats at the 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll! BCI joins the National Park Foundation at the Easter event.

Published on April 3, 2015
Written by Micaela Jemison

Dianne OdegardBat Conservation International (BCI) and the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) are bringing live bats to the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, April 6. Families will meet four different bat species up close on the White House South Lawn and learn about the benefits bats have for our food production and healthy human lifestyles!

The theme of this year’s event is “#gimmefive”, which encourages Americans to share with others five things they are doing to lead a healthier life. This is a part of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, which promotes healthy lifestyles in children through a combination of exercise and healthy eating.

Both bat conservation groups are supporting the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, in promoting the benefits of bats and other wildlife in sustainable agriculture. 

Bats are key to both pollination and pest control for many foods. Without the help of bats, we would be without many of the delicious and healthy food options that are a part of our lives.

As a part of the #gimmefive initiative, here are five healthy foods that we can thank bats for helping to produce:

1. Corn 

Corn is a staple in the diets of many people around the globe. Corn production, though, frequently runs into issues with pests. Luckily, the Mexican free-tailed bat (pictured above with BCI's Dianne Odegard) is the natural predator to the corn earworm moth, a pest that hosts its larvae in corn and other crops. Bats eat these pests and help reduce pesticide use while bringing down the cost of corn production.

2. Tomatoes 

From salsa to marinara sauce to sandwich toppings, tomatoes are used in a large variety of healthy options. Unfortunately, tomatoes face many of the same problems corn does. The corn earworm moth also hosts its larvae in tomatoes and is capable of causing massive crop damage. The corn earworm moth inhabits many parts of the southern United States and causes about $1 billion in damages to crops worldwide.

3. Soybeans

Soybeans are also similarly affected by the corn earworm moth and other pests. Fortunately, bats are eating machines due to their extremely high metabolisms. Bats are capable of eating up to two thirds of their body weight in insects every night, and can eat even more if pregnant or nursing.

bat pollinating banana flower4. Durian

To many the smell of the durian is awful but it doesn’t seem to stop millions of others who love the taste of the unusual fruit. The long-tongued dawn fruit bat and other fruit bats pollinate durian flowers. Known as the “King of Fruits,” durian production adds millions of dollars annually to economies in Southeast Asia and nearby Pacific islands.

5. Bananas

A great source of potassium and fiber, bananas are popular tasty treat. The short-nosed fruit bat and the long-tongued dawn fruit bat are two of several small fruit bats that serve as the primary pollinators of wild bananas. These wild plants provide important genetic reservoirs that are used to improve commercial crops and combat disease.