The next time you take a big bite of a delicious chocolate bar, thank a bat. Why? Because chocolate is made from cocoa beans. Those cocoa beans come from cocoa plants. And cocoa plants depend on the bats!
Bats are pollinators. That means that when bats fly from cocoa plant to cocoa plant and drink nectar from the flowers, they are helping the cocoa plants produce seeds. The seeds become beans, which are harvested to make chocolate. Scientists have done studies to learn more about the bats and cocoa plants. They found that in Indonesia, when the bats were kept away from the plants, there were fewer cocoa beans to harvest!
You might know that bees and butterflies are pollinators, too. Just like bats, bees and butterflies help to produce food. Bees buzz around plant flowers to collect food. While doing this, they pollinate apple trees, cranberries bushes, melon plants, and more, helping the plants to produce fruit. Bumblebees, for example, are important for growing blueberries.
Conservationists are scientists and other professionals who work to protect the environment and wildlife. They are conducting research and providing advice to people to make sure pollinators such as bats, bees, and butterflies have plenty to eat and safe places to live.
Conservationists have been working with landowners to help butterflies that live in or travel through their land. Through just one program managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 300,000 acres of land have been restored or improved to support butterflies and other pollinators. More than 750,000 milkweed seedlings have been planted. Milkweeds are the only plants that monarch caterpillars eat, so without milkweed, there would be no more monarch butterflies. Since butterflies and other pollinators help to make so many of the foods we eat, the least we can do is to make sure they get food to eat, too.
The next time you eat some juicy blueberries, or take a bite of a nice, crisp apple, remember that without bees, butterflies, and bats, there would be none of these delicious foods to enjoy. Thank you, pollinators!