Enjoying A Margarita On Cinco De Mayo? You Can Thank Bats For That.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Margaritas, anyone? And while you enjoy your delicious beverage, I hope you remember to thank the bats that made it possible. Yes, I said “bats.” And, no, I don’t have my holidays mixed up.

I know. You’ve probably heard, and maybe believe, a lot of uncool things about bats: They’re dirty. They cause diseases. They are vicious. They get caught in people’s hair. The fact is, though, that none of these things are true. Bats are actually super-helpful to people. They eat mosquitoes and other insects that are harmful to humans, animals and crops. A single bat eats as many as 1,000 mosquitoes PER HOUR on a typical summer night. Um, thanks, bats! Bats also play a very important role in the lives of plants, which is where the margarita connection comes in.

Long-nosed bats, who live in Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., are the main pollinators of the blue agave plant, which is what tequila is made of. So … no bats, no tequila. Really.

+ Check Out The History Of Cinco de Mayo In 10 Seconds.

Agave, a succulent plant that looks sort of like a cactus but isn’t, has long, tubular flowers that open only at night. Long-nosed bats, who are nocturnal, are awake at night. These bats, who eat pollen and nectar, feed from these flowers, then carry the pollen from plant to plant, making it possible for more agave to grow. It’s a good deal for the bats, the plants and us: The bats get the food they need, and the agave gets to keep growing and keep being used to make tequila. In fact, according to the article “Long-Nosed Bats and Agaves: The Tequila Connection,” published by Bat Conservation International: “The bat-plant association is so strong that the disappearance of one would threaten the survival of the other.”

And there’s where we have a problem: Long-nosed bats are an endangered species, and their population numbers have been dropping significantly in recent years. This is partially because of habitat destruction and pesticide use, but another reason for the decline is ignorance. Many people believe the untrue things about bats, so they destroy places where bats roost, or kill the bats themselves. This is not OK. Bats are one of the many species that keep the environment healthy.

To help bats, and keep the margaritas flowing, check out the action widget below.

Photo: (Getty)

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