The Echo
Meet the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat

The Echo

Meet the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat

Published on June 17, 2020
Written by Kristen Pope

Image: Veronica Zamora-Gutiérrez

The lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) isn’t just any bat. It’s a poster bat. This year, a stunning depiction of the lesser long-nosed bat is featured on the poster for Pollinator Week (June 22-28, 2020). Here are a few amazing facts about this incredible species.

1) When you’re fast asleep, this amazing bat is burning the midnight oil, working as a pollinating machine! The lesser long-nosed bat is one of just three nectar-feeding bats found in the entire U.S. They pollinate agaves, saguaros, organ pipe and cardon cacti, and other night blooming plants. That’s why BCI is hard at work planting agave in the southwestern US and Mexico; to help feed these little critters. And they get messy while they’re on their pollination mission. When a lesser long-nosed bat reaches a flower, it reaches deep inside to get a delicious sip of nectar, emerging with a hairy head absolutely covered in pollen. On to the next flower, they duck in for a drink, spreading some of that good pollen all around—we told you they were a pollinating machine!

2) If the lesser long-nosed bat could drive it would never forget where it left its car keys! The lesser long-nosed bat has such a good memory it can even remember which patches of plants are just about to flower, so they know just when the pollen buffet will be open for another all-you-can-eat nighttime visit.

3) This bat weighs just 27 grams—about one ounce, or around the weight of a AA battery.

4) They don’t pack tiny suitcases or passports, but these pollinators are long-distance international travelers. They fly over 620 miles—each way—along the “nectar trail” through Mexico into the southwestern U.S., seeking out blooming and fruiting agaves and cacti. They are so strong and in-shape they can travel over 120 miles in one night for foraging.

5) They are survivors! The lesser long-nosed bat is the only bat that’s been removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List because it was recovering so well. It was originally added in 1988, when only 1,000 of these pollinating wonders were known to live at just 14 known sites. By 2018, these bats were doing so well and studies had confirmed that their numbers were hitting close to 200,000 bats in 75 locations, so they were taken off the list. Go team bat!

We are grateful for this pollinating species and BCI is working to help them with agave planting projects and restoration work.


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