The winged creatures may help the wine industry salvage a terrible year
It’s not such a batty idea: Bordeaux wine producers are building bat-friendly habitats on their vineyards to help eradicate the issue of grapevine moth and grape berry moth infestation.
And in doing so, they’re hoping to salvage a beleaguered French wine industry that’s suffering not only from pests but high tariffs, climate change and the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, all of which is decimating sales of high-end wine bottles.
As Forbes reports, wine producers in France are creating strips of grass between the vines and building bat boxes; the hope is that the insect-eating mammals will eradicate the moths that cause botrytis, a gray mold that’s seriously hurt the industry before, particularly Champagne.
A Bordeaux-based scientist has been catching bats in nets and testing for the moths in their digestive systems; unfortunately, even their presence can’t prove if the yields will increase, as there are too many factors (such as climate) that change every year.
Watch legendary Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, talk about why she thinks animals are not to blame for the current pandemic in this Coronavirus special series, SKAVLAN
Wine, for when you want to party but still feel classy about it. Like all edible alcohol, wine comes from fermentation, and for millennia artisans have honed their craft at turning humble grapes into the drink of the gods. So suffice it to say growing good grapes is crucial to making good wine.
That’s why French wine growers have such a beef with moths. These thirsty bootleg butterfly bugs love swooping down and eating grapes right off the vine. They have the nerve to get between us and our wine! But fear not, a recent wine industry study revealed that in the War For Wine we have an animal kingdom ally in the fight against moths, an animal we’re already used to associating with superheroics. It turns out bats are the best natural defense wine can get.
It’s really just the food cycle wine growers should be thankful for. Of the 22 local Bordeaux bat species, researchers observed that 19 of them specifically love to feast on moths that target wine grapes. Droppings analysis confirmed that it was these harmful moths being preyed on. Other insects were spared.
With this knowledge, wine growers could use these bats to their advantage. They could act like organic pesticides, clearing the fields of insects while not introducing harmful chemicals into the ecosystem. It would take some effort though. The bats instinctively hunt in wilder regions, so they would have to be somehow funneled towards these domesticated vineyards [ . . . ]