Made for Each Other
THE bat has a nose for nectar, the century plant has a need for pollen, and both aim to please. Each would find life difficult without the other.
Sanborn’s Long-nosed Bat migrates into Arizona and New Mexico for the summer months. At that time the century plant shoots its stalk up some 20 feet [6 m], with branchings of yellow flowers. The bat feeds at night; the yellow flowers produce nectar only at night; birds get only leftovers during daytime. When the bat lands on the blossom, its tongue fills with blood and extends out a third of its body length to take in the nectar. When it leaves, it takes pollen to the next plant it visits. The bat relies on the plant for survival during the summer months; the plant depends on the bat for cross-pollination.
But man’s indiscriminate killing of bats and his destruction of their habitats bode ill for the wild century plants as well. Will man ever learn to live and let live?
[Picture Credit Line on page 31]
Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International