Bats: allies in the fight against moths

Bats: allies in the fight against moths

Herdade do Esporão has had bat shelters since 2010. At that time, we knew that these animals should be able to help us control pests but, until now, the actual impact had not been proven.

In 2017 we began cooperating with a research group from Universidade de Évora, coordinated by the biologists António Mira and João Tiago Marques, who monitor the bat boxes used by the Kuhl’s pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus kuhlii) and collect guano (the specific name for bat droppings) so that, using genomic analysis tools, we could find out what these animals really eat and how frequently.

Results regarding the olive moth (Prays oleae), part of the bats’ diet, show that bats have a preference for this species, with more than 70% of guano samples testing positive for this insect’s presence during the period when it is most abundant (May).

This project also included an analysis of the biodiversity of bats on the Estate, where 6 species were detected, especially the Mehely’s Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi) – an endangered species that seems to benefit from the environmental conditions at Herdade do Esporão.

Following this small success, we are installing new bat shelters that are better adapted to forest bat species, who are also avid moth eaters.

These small mammals are strong allies in our journey through organic farming, helping us achieve results that are healthier without the use of any type of synthesized chemical.