The bane of French wine growers’ lives are hungry moths. Moths have quite an appetite and have a ferocious ability to feast on vines. Wine producers have discovered an unexpected ally in their fight against the insects: bats. Read on to find out how French winegrowers are getting a helping hand from bats.
Bats were observed swooping to hunt more often towards vines where the bugs were present, as per a recent study by the wine industry committee of Bordeaux. This meant that they could potentially be used as a natural pesticide.
A genetic analysis was done on the bat droppings. This proved that they were indeed eating the moths rather than other insects. Local bats are eating grapevine moths and cochylis moths which typically feed on the vines.
Bat activity was observed over 23 plots of land in the winegrowing Gironde region of southwest France around Bordeaux between May and October 2017.
As many as 19 of the 22 local bat breeds feasting on the grape-loving moths which came as a surprise to the conservation groups such as the Bird Protection League.
This many species of bats that frequented the grapevines were not expected. This biodiversity was not known.
Natural hunting ground
More natural environments such as hedgerows are still what the bats appear to prefer hunting in, however the study could lead the way for vineyards to look at encouraging bats to hunt there. This would allow winegrowers to reduce their pesticide use.
At the moment, growers who are faced with an infestation have no choice but to spray their vines with chemicals. Another study would be needed to determine the amount of pests bats would eat and whether it is enough to allow reduced use of pesticides.
It may be early to completely stop using pesticides but there may be an alternative for the future.