This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

Reblogged from http://www.buzzfeed.com

Give them a chance, you guys. They just want to eat all the bugs and pollinate tequila plants.posted on October 23, 2013 at 1:13am EDT

Sara Bee

COMMUNITY MEMBER

Look at this bat. That’s a nice bat.

Look at this bat. That's a nice bat.

Nobody really likes these guys, though.

Nobody really likes these guys, though.

(Sorry, bat friends.)

Because people think bats are terrifying little sharp-toothed bundles of flying hate.

Because people think bats are terrifying little sharp-toothed bundles of flying hate.

And rabies.

But here’s the thing.

But here's the thing.

BATS ARE ADORABLE.

BATS ARE ADORABLE.

THEY JUST WANT TO BE LOVED.

THEY JUST WANT TO BE LOVED.

And give love in return.

And give love in return.

Poor, misunderstood bats. See this one?! It’s like a little hamster with wings! Oh my god!

Poor, misunderstood bats. See this one?! It's like a little hamster with wings! Oh my god!

And they’re big fans of watermelon!

And they're big fans of watermelon!

But wait. There’s more.

But wait. There's more.

Doesn’t this strangely kind of resemble…

Doesn't this strangely kind of resemble...

THIS?!?

THIS?!?

Answer: pretty much.

Answer: pretty much.

And not only are they the cutest. Oh, no. Bats are wonderfully useful creatures to have around.

And not only are they the cutest. Oh, no. Bats are wonderfully useful creatures to have around.

Someday, this guy will be able to eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour. This is a mosquito-killing MACHINE.

Someday, this guy will be able to eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour. This is a mosquito-killing MACHINE.

Say these people here.

(Don’t pretend like mosquitoes aren’t the worst.)

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

And if it weren’t for bats, we might have fewer bananas, mangoes, almonds, peaches…

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

and TEQUILA.

and TEQUILA.

These people say that bats pollinate a bunch of different plants and/or spread their seeds. Seed production of the agave plants used to make tequila drops to 1/3000th of normal without bats to pollinate them.

I mean, don’t get me wrong.

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

THEY ARE THE NIGHT.

THEY ARE THE NIGHT.

But also friends.

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

Squeaky-clean friends.

Squeaky-clean friends.

(Apparently, bats groom themselves like cats.)

Which makes it sort of less awful if one of them beelines it for your hair.

Which makes it sort of less awful if one of them beelines it for your hair.

The end.

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

Start Planning Your Bee Garden Now

bee cartoon

Now is the time to start planning your bee garden for this spring, summer and fall! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing the bees’ favorite plants and scouring the new garden catalogs for tasty bee treats!

Tune in for more information!!

Covering Old Ground

Not that anyone has asked me, but I thought I would weigh in on my personal choices of ground cover/underplanting.

I am a traditionalist.  I like four plants for covering those awkward spaces under roses, hydrangea and other flowering shrubs.

My number one choice is Nepeta, specifically Walkers’ Low.  I love this plant. It is hearty, beautiful, fragrant and voluminous.  Its only downside is that if you have cats, they like to nap right in the middle of them. It’s also known as catmint.

Nepeta Walkers Low and Pink Roses

My second choice is hosta.  There are so many smaller cultivars these days, and they are  mostly all fabulous.

Hosta Underplanting

My third choice is stachys, or lambs ears.  They add texture and a beautiful grey color that blends with everything.

Lambs Ears Underplanting

My fourth choice is lavender.  It’s a bit hard to get started, but once it gets going, it is just about perfect.

Lavender and Boxwood

And they are all great bee plants!

What’s Blooming In The Garden On July 28

There’s still plenty of nectar for the bees. I can’t wait for my dahlias to start blooming en masse!

The Nitrogen Cycle

All Life depends upon the chemical element nitrogen.

An atom of nitrogen lies at the heart of all amino acids, which are not only the building blocks of protein of which muscles and many other of the body’s parts are made, but also the basic constituent of DNA, which carries the genetic code for all living things.

Nitrogen atoms are also present in the molecules which enable energy transfer during photosynthesis. Without nitrogen, life as we know it would not exist.

Though about 78% of the Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen, plants and animals don’t necessarily have an easy time getting all the nitrogen they need. Green plants can’t use the nitrogen that’s free in the atmosphere. Nitrogen must be “fixed” before it is usable by most living things.

NITROGEN FIXATION

The process of chemically altering unusable, free atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by organisms is referred to as nitrogen fixation. In nature, there are two main ways of “fixing” nitrogen:

FIRST WAY: Lightning. If you’ve ever been close to a lightning flash and right afterwards smelled an ammonia-like odor, that was lightning-fixed nitrogen you smelled. Only a relatively small percentage of nitrogen gets fixed in this way, however. Nature’s main nitrogen fixers are…

SECOND WAY: Special microorganisms living mostly in soil and water.

Nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, existing abundantly but practically invisibly nearly everywhere, include a few forms of bacteria, the blue-green algae, and some fungi. Some nitrogen-fixing bacteria live in nodules, or small, bag-like growths on the roots of certain plants, especially members of the Bean Family.

NITROGEN-FIXING NODULES ON BACKYARD CLOVER

In many backyards, nodules can be seen on the fine, wiry roots of clover, a member of the Bean Family, and considered a weed by those who don’t know its importance.

The image below is a much-magnified section of the roots of the clover in the above photo. The brown, baglike things hanging on the larger roots are nitrogen-fixing nodules.

USABLE NITROGEN, STEP BY STEP

Typically, nitrogen-fixing microorganisms do not fix free atmospheric nitrogen to a usable form in one step. Usually one set of organisms converts free nitrogen(N2) to ammonia (NH3). This ammonia is accompanied by its ammonium ion (NH4+), which some plants can use. However, most flowering plants need nitrogen in yet another form, which microorganisms provide by converting the ammonia to usable nitrate (NO3-).

Already you see that various organisms must work together to accomplish this profoundly important job. However, it’s even more complex than what’s described above! The process of converting ammonia to nitrate, callednitrification, is usually accomplished by two different sets of bacteria working one after the other.

POINT TO PONDER

The point of all this is not to convince you that nitrogen is wonderful stuff, although it is. The point is that nature is composed of a huge number of interrelated parts, and nitrogen with all of its jobs is just one tiny, usually ignored part.

When we dump toxic chemicals (insecticides and oil pollution,for instance) into the Earth’s air, water, and soil, we are upsetting vital life-enabling processes by killing organisms that are profoundly important to the continuance of Life on Earth.