Friday, October 30, 2020
Generally, bats are not the most beloved garden animals, because of their misleading reputation about feeding on blood. However, bats contribute to the biodiversity in several interesting ways, like eating pests or fertilizing the soil. Sadly, their number is decreasing, so we collected some ideas to help you create a bat-friendly garden!
Uniquely, bats are the only mammals capable of true and sustained flight and they have over 1400 species. In this huge family we can find bats feeding on fruits, pests or even blood, though the latter one is the least common. Don’t worry, bats living in Europe feed solely on insects.
Fun fact: Some bats are nectar-eaters. We should be thankful for them since they help with the harvest of some of our loved foods – chocolate, avocado, mango, coconut and agave plant!
Brilliant biological pest control
The most common bat species in Europe feed on moths, mosquitoes, midges, flies and other nocturnal insects which they catch on the wing. Thanks to their ability to navigate by echolocation, they are brilliant hunters eating even 3000 pests per night. This is about a quarter of their body weight in food!
You can easily lure bats in the garden by placing out flower seed mixture that attracts many nocturnal insects which bats can then feast on. Not to mention, that in this way you ensure biological insect control with the help of garden bats instead of using harmful pesticides. By the way, bats’ presence indicate healthy biodiversity in the garden. Other features of a bat-friendly garden are compost heaps and ponds as they are good at generating the types of insect that bats like.
Given that bats hibernate during winter months, it is more important to prepare an insect-rich garden in spring , because this way bats can put some fat on during the autumn.
Better with Bat Boxes!
Sadly, bat numbers decline at an alarming rate, mainly due to the increase use of pesticides. But the urbanization and insulated houses don’t make it any easier for them either. They stand in need of some help and fortunately there are solutions!
Bats are nocturnal creatures, thus they roost in dark, secure places during the day, like hollow trees, roof spaces or in splits in the trunks and branches of trees. As their natural habitat is decreasing because old trees are cut down, we can provide shelter to them by applying bat boxes in and around the garden. These boxes can be placed on tree trunks or walls of buildings.
To ensure bats will find our bat box attractive and cozy, pay attention to the followings:
- Choose locations for the bat boxes with a southerly or westerly aspect.
- Fasten the box securely, so that bats can use it safely in bad weather, too.
- Place it 12 to 18 feet above the ground avoiding other animals to disturb it.
- Avoid placing boxes at frequently used places, like above doors or windows and try not to disturb them.
Bats hibernate during the cold winter months. Therefore, offering secure shelter to them with bat boxes is particularly important between September and March. Later on, then can not only use it as a hibernation site, but also for breeding or hanging with the others!
Fun fact: Pipistrelles are one of the smallest and most common bats in Europe and they weight the same as just 10 paperclips!