How Bats Are Beneficial To Your Garden & How To Attract Them
Bats are the most misunderstood of our garden residents. Do these critters send a chill down your spine? If so, read on. Bats have an undeserved reputation for being bloodsucking, disease-carrying, dirty little rodents. Don't let these myths about bats scare you -- embrace them (not literally, of course) and attract them to your garden!
Apart from the obvious exception of owls, most bird species are active during the day. But many insect species are nocturnal, and pests can damage crops in the night with nothing to stop them. That’s when attracting bats to your permaculture plot can provide a solution.
All bats are night-feeders, and most are insectivores, taking insects on the wing, scooping them from the surface of water bodies, or foraging for them in trees, shrubs and ground cover, all the time using their echolocation abilities to hone in on prey with ultrasonic sound.
A few of the more than 40 species of bat that inhabit the U.S. feed on nectar and fruit. But these species are beneficial to the garden as well, with nectar-feeders helping to pollinate plants, and fruit feeders eating fallen fruit that could become home to insect pest larvae.
Bat populations exist in both urban and rural settings, so any permaculturist can adopt deign techniques to attract bats to their site.
Using native species, and varieties that you may have seen frequented by bats in the surrounding area, is useful. Herbs are particularly beneficial in attracting insects, so plant a wide variety of native herbs in your permaculture design – with the added benefit of giving you a lot of choice for your kitchen.
Trees and shrubs are also hunting grounds for bats, as they provide shelter and warmth for insects, and places where insect larvae and young can live. Trees can also provide shelter for smaller, slower bats, which prefer not to cross large areas of open space for fear of predators like owls and hawks. They will use tree canopies, shrubs and hedges to protect themselves from detection. Leave dead, hollow trees on the site as potential roosting places.
Bats need a constant supply of fresh water to drink.
Bats will generally find their own place to roost, and because they range over large areas, they tend to prefer out-of-the-way places like barns on farms or caves. However, with the loss of suitable habitat, they are increasingly being seen roosting on buildings in urban areas, or trees in municipal parks.
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Found in OpenPermaculture