U S Fish and Wildlife Service


Past Featured Pollinators:
  Allen's Hummingbird
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird
  Calliope Hummingbird
  Costa's Hummingbird
  Crested Honeycreepers
  Dakota Skipper
  El Segundo blue butterfly
  Karner blue butterfly
  Lesser long-nosed bat

Mexican long-nosed bat

  Mitchell’s Satyr
  Monarch Butterfly
  Rufous Hummingbird
  Rusty patched bumble bee
  Taylor's checkerspot butterfly
More Pollinators:
  Fringed Orchids and Hawkmoths


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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.


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


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: June 17, 2019