What Is Guano?Guano is another term for the bats' excrement or feces. The name has roots in the region of the Andes Mountains in South America, where it comes from an Indigenous language. Bat guano resembles a collection of elongated pellets that are dark-colored. The pellets may be somewhat glittery in appearance because they contain the undigested remains of insects' exoskeletons, which may be iridescent in appearance. Guano is dry and tends to crumble with the slightest touch, but it is inadvisable to touch it at all.
How Can Bat Guano Be Beneficial?Guano contains nutrients that plants need to grow. The most important of these are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, often abbreviated as NPK. Guano is an organic source of these nutrients that gardeners sometimes turn to as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. It also contains other helpful nutrients. These include sulfur, which helps plants to produce chlorophyll, the chemical that makes them green and allows them to perform photosynthesis, as well as calcium, which supports the plants' cell structure. Bats that eat fruit may spread the seeds through their excrement, which is another way that guano can benefit plants.
What Are the Risks of Guano?Professionally collected, processed, and packaged guano sold for the purpose of fertilizing lawns and gardens is safe to use as long as you follow the directions provided. However, you shouldn't try to collect your own guano, nor should you try to clean up excrement yourself if you have bats on your property. After it has sat and collected for a while, it can start to grow a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. If inhaled, the spores of this fungus can cause a disease called histoplasmosis. Symptoms of histoplasmosis include the following:
- Body aches
- Chest pain
- Impaired vision
- Shortness of breath