Pollinators
U S Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Past Featured Pollinators:
  Crested Honeycreepers
  Karner blue butterfly
  Lesser long-nosed bat
 

Mexican long-nosed bat

  Rufous Hummingbird
  White-winged_Dove
More Pollinators:
  Fringed Orchids and Hawkmoths
  Hummingbirds in Alaska

 

Fun Fact:

All bats use sound (echolocation) to “see” objects in their path. From these echoes, bats can determine size and shape of objects, and how far away they are, all within a split second. Bats are the only mammal capable of flight.

 

 

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Featured Pollinator

Photo of: Lesser long-nosed bat
  Lesser Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae) . Credit: Bill Radke/USFWS

Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae) is a medium-sized, migratory nectar bat native to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It has an extensive range, spanning southeastern Arizona through southwestern New Mexico in the United States, and moving south into Mexico for the winter months. The lesser long-nosed bat is yellow-brown or cinnamon gray and is about three inches (8 cm) long. The tongue measures approximately the same length as the body and provides access to the nectar of deep desert flowers. This species also has a small noseleaf on the tip of its nose. A “noseleaf” is a small flap of tissue shaped like a leaf growing out of the top of the nose. The wingspan of the lesser long-nosed bat is approximately 10 inches long. These bats can live for about 12 years.

 

Habitat of the lesser long-nosed bat, showing Saguaro cacti, credit: George Gentry/USFWS
 

 


Lesser long-nosed bats are nectar feeders and important pollinators for their nectar plants. In the United States, this includes agaves, saguaro, and organ pipe cacti. As the bats approach the host plant flowers, they use their long, extendable tongue to gather nectar, stored at the bottom of the flower. In the process, the bat’s face and neck fur become covered with pollen that it unwittingly transports to other flowers it visits, resulting in cross-pollination. Like other nectar feeders, lesser long-nosed bats may either hover at, or land on, flowering stalks to feed. Although nectar, pollen, and insects are consumed, fruits, especially fruits of the columnar cacti, are also eaten after the flowering season, and these bats are also important seed dispersers for these cacti species. Lesser long-nosed bats are also opportunistic feeders at hummingbird feeders because of the loss of habitat and other food sources. The loss of habitat and other food sources is mainly due to human development and increased fire due to invasive non-native species and changes in the amount and timing of precipitation.

 

The lesser long-nosed bat is found in a variety of vegetation communities including desert scrub, desert grasslands, Madrean oak woodlands, thorn scrub, and tropical deciduous forests supporting agaves, saguaro and organ pipe cacti, and flowering trees; their primary food source. Female lesser long-nosed bats migrate north, following the blooming desert flowers in the spring, into southwestern Arizona to give birth. Roosts are typically within caves and mines, offering darkness and protection. The adult males tend to roost in different locations than the adult females and babies, often remaining in Mexico. Day roost sites include caves and abandoned mines, and night roosts range from these same caves and mines to buildings, bridges, and trees.

 

  Flowering agave, one of the plants the lesser long-nosed bats pollinate. Credit: Dr. Thomas G. Barnes/University of Kentucky

Sources:

Adams, Rick A. 2003. BATS of the Rocky Mountain West, Natural History, Ecology and Conservation. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. 2011. Sonorensis: Celebrating Bats. Vol. 31, No. 1, Winter 2011.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2007. 5 Year Review: Summary and Evaluation, Species reviewed: Lesser Long-nosed Bat / Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 45 pp.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1997. Recovery Plan for the Lesser Long-nosed Bat, Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 49 pp.

Last Updated: July 30, 2012