Vineyards in the Dordogne invest in bats to protect crops

Following a study, published earlier this year, which concluded that certain species of bat hunt grapevine moths, wine producers in the Dordogne are installing bat boxes around their vineyards to encourage the flying mammals to act as a natural ‘pesticide’.

The study, commissioned by the wine industry committee of Bordeaux (CIVB) and carried out by the region’s animal and bird protection league (LPO Aquitaine), along with the consultancy firm Eliomys and the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), found that bats could be used to help control the grapevine moth in vineyards.

In the 23 plots of land studied in the Gironde department, which includes Bordeaux, 19 of the 22 species of bat known to inhabit the area were recorded at least once.

In addition, the study found that certain species of bat increased their hunting activity when they came across the grapevine moth.

In order to ensure that this behaviour was not due to the presence of other insects in addition to the grapevine moths, the study assessed the bats’ diet and analysed their guano (excrement). Grapevine moth DNA formed a large constituent of the bat guano in vine growing areas, even when there were relatively low numbers of the moths reported, the study found.

The study concluded: “For the first time these results formally demonstrate the capacity of bats to feed on grapevine moths and cochylis moths”.

As reported by the Telegraph, wine producers in the Dordogne are installing bat boxes around their vineyards, with local secondary schools also helping with the initiative. Around 20 wine domains are involved in the scheme with tests due to be carried out over the next three years, according to the paper. BatViti, as it is known, was established back in 2016 and has been gathering momentum, particularly in light of the study published earlier this year.

The project is part of the local chamber of agriculture’s endeavour to significantly reduce pesticide usage as part of a two-year project.

Guillaume Barou, vice president of the wine cooperative of Monbazillac, told the Telegraph: “The use of phytosanitary products (grape pesticides) is the last resort for a farmer to fight against a threat placing his harvest in danger. If we can find other solutions before reaching that threshold, even if there are some moths left, that’s perfect”.

In other drinks-related bat news, the lesser long-nosed bat, known for its role in the pollination of the agave plant used in the production of Tequila, was removed from the endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year.

The service credited the efforts of Tequila producers who are “increasingly integrating harvest and cultivation practices” which have thus helped to safeguard the bats. Conservation of the species inspired the bat-friendly Tequila movement which sees a special label on a bottle signify that the agave plant was naturally pollinated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Fine Wine Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Account Manager - London Trade Sales

Bancroft Wines Ltd
London, UK

Brand Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London UK

Marketing Assistant

Speciality Brands
Park Royal, London, UK

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives
Maldives

Financial Controller

London City Bond
Barking, UK

Duty Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Great Portland Street, London

Spirits Advisor

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

International Sales Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Millésime Bio 2020

Montpellier,France
27th Jan 2020

Maisons Marques et Domaines Annual Tasting

London,United Kingdom
29th Jan 2020

Austrian Wine Tasting

London,United Kingdom
3rd Feb 2020
Click to view more