Cave Nectar Bats taking nectar from banana flowers

posted in: Fauna | 5

The Common Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis), as mentioned earlier, takes fruits and nectar from various species of plants. The Banana Plant (Musa cultivar) is targeted for the nectar and pollen LINK.

In mid-December 2014 when two of my banana plants were flowering, I attempted to photograph the bats visiting the flowers. Without infrared facilities, it was a problem, as the bats appear only after dark. It so happened that the plants in my backyard were growing by a spotlight that was directed downwards. And this provided a light source for me to videograph the visiting bats to the flowers.

After a few nights of failure, I finally succeeded in catching the bats at the flowers. But instead of the Common Fruit Bats, the visitors were Cave Nectar Bats (Eonycteris spelaea) (above), as pointed out by Dr Leong Tzi Ming.

These Cave Nectar Bats visited on an average of once every 10 minutes or so during that period of night that I was observing the plant.

The banana inflorescence is a huge structure with whorls of two closely packed flowers covered by a large reddish bract (top). These bracts open, starting from the top downwards, to expose the two rows of flowers.

The bats slipped under the lowermost bract to get at the latest exposed set of flowers. As they “node dived” into a flower, the longer upper perianth segment can be seen raising up to allow the head to probe into the flower and get at the copious nectar – see video above and details of a flower below.

The image below shows the lower 1-segment perianth with a large blob of viscous nectar covered with ants.

They remain from a few seconds to 30 seconds or so under the bract before slipping out and flying off.

YC Wee
December 2014

5 Responses

  1. Vilma

    Super post, Prof Wee and Ming! Gorgeous to see the bat sipping nectar. Such a precious moment which I haven’t yet witnessed. Thanks for sharing!

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