Why Bats Are Ecological Superheroes

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Bats are ecological superheroes. They feed on agricultural pests and pollinate many popular food crops including bananas, cacao, mangos, peaches and figs
  • Did you know that without bats, we wouldn’t have tequila? Bats pollinate agave, the primary ingredient in tequila, which blooms at night in the Desert Southwest
  • “Bats — Unsung Heroes” highlights several hotspots for bats, including the South Congress bridge in Austin, Texas, and Bracken Cave, near San Antonio, Texas
  • About 20 million bats live in Bracken Cave. Each night they eat 147 tons of insects, most of which are agricultural pests
  • Bats save farmers in the U.S. up to $53 billion per year

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Health Benefits of Folate for Children, Athletes and Seniors

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Folate is the form of B9 found in leafy greens and other foods and can be directly utilized by your body. For this reason, it’s the preferred form, and is particularly important if you have liver problems
  • Folic acid is the synthetic form typically found in supplements. Folic acid is not biologically active in and of itself, but provided your liver is healthy, it will convert folic acid into the active form
  • Research suggests 15% of adults over the age of 50 may be deficient in folate, and the older you are, the greater the deficiency. Folate may help lower your risk for heart disease and stroke by lowering your homocysteine level
  • Taking baker’s yeast, which contains folates, has been shown to minimize post-exercise immunosuppression in athletes, and folic acid supplementation can help lower the risk of cardiovascular events relating to exertion
  • 2018 research found higher folic acid exposure in utero was associated with improved cortical maturation in the child, which in turn predicted a reduced risk for symptoms of psychosis

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How an Epidemic of Dead Bats Could Make Your Groceries More Expensive

It’s bad enough that the U.S. honeybee population has dropped precipitously in the past few years, threatening the existence of all pollinated crops (that’s one-third of American agriculture). Now an epidemic may be hitting the country’s bats–and it has the potential to further threaten agriculture.

Bats are the unsung heroes of organic farming, consuming massive amounts of pests on a daily basis. The little brown bat, Montana’s most common bat species, gobbles up 1,200 insects per hour and in one 2006 study, bats in South-Central Texas were shown to have an annual pest control value of over $740,000 (29% of the value of the area’s cotton crop). For organic farms, this is key, since pest control is hard enough with chemicals. Continue reading