Most of you probably clicked on this article just to be sure you correctly read the title and your eyes were not playing tricks on you. Well, thanks for clicking and yes, today we are going to find out to turn our yards into a bat-hive.
“Why on earth would I want bats in my yard?! They are scary, bloodsucking, disease-carrying…..” Okay, I just had to interrupt that train of thought, because, well, simply because it is wrong on so many levels. Forget the vampire movies, ghost stories, myths and superstitions, bats are relatively harmless to humans and their presence in your yard would be a great asset. Why?
- They love to gobble up insects: Moths, beetles, flies, and the true blood-sucking, disease-carrying parasites, mosquitoes. In all fairness, not all bats are insect-eaters. Some species are herbivorous and eat fruits.
- If you got bats, you don’t need artificial fertilizers. Bat droppings are filled with nutrients that make plants grow. So, if your yard is positively swarming with bats, then your gardens would thrive.
- Bats are great at pollination. They help in pollinating a large number of different flower species, as well as common fruit plants like mangoes, bananas, and guavas.
- They provide awesome acrobatic displays. Remember that early scene from the much popular and quite controversial movie: ‘Batman vs Superman’, where a colony of bats lifts up one of the titular characters from the ground in a spectacular display of bat-awesomeness? Now, you might not get that exact level of grandiosity in your backyard, but you sure would enjoy the sight of bats flitting around your yard during sunset.
- Recent studies have shown that the bat population has drastically declined due to various reasons, chief among them being habitat loss and use of pesticides. By making your yard a safe and comfortable place for bats to roost, you are contributing your own quota in saving them from extinction.
So, if you were not sold on the insect-eating benefit, then the visual aesthetics or the eco-friendly benefits did the trick. Me, once I found out that they ate mosquitoes, all I could think about was how to get myself some bats. Now that we all want bats roosting in our yards. How do we go about it?
- Have a visible and clean source of water
Like all animals, bats need water, and if you have a natural water source on or beside your property, like a lake or a pond, all the better. If you don’t, then installing a birdbath or a fountain should suffice.
- Make your garden work for you
While roughly 30% of bats eat fruits, the remaining 70% love insects. Insects themselves love pale-colored flowers and plants with pleasant smells. So, if you want to get bats, populate your garden with marigold, dahlia, thyme, raspberry, chives, and lemon balm. Night-blooming plants like moonflower, evening primrose, nicotiana, and water lily can also be used to attract nocturnal insects such as moths.
- Build a bat house
This one’s pretty important. Bats need to roost and a bat house provides the perfect roosting site if done rightly. The bat house should be made of wood having rough surfaces, edges or grooves and the roughest side used for the interior, as bats need a rough surface to hang onto. The house should be mounted on a pole at least 15 feet from the ground and placed in a position where it is able to receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Bats love the warmth and painting the exterior of the house black would help to trap heat and keep the house warm.
- Leave dead trees and install some lights
Trees also serve as a favorite roosting spot for bats. So, if there is a dead tree in your yard not posing a danger to you, don’t cut it down. You could also try installing mercury vapor lights to attract insects which in turn attracts bats.
A quick word of advice: When it comes to bats, the watchword is patience. If after implementing all these ideas, and there are still no bat visitors, don’t be discouraged. Experts suggest waiting 4-5 years before giving up hope. And when they do visit, avoid spraying pesticides as the chemicals are injurious to their health.