October is Bat Appreciation Month. So, why would a whole month be devoted to these odd-looking creatures? It has nothing to do with Halloween or vampires. It’s more about getting to know these mysterious flying superheroes that help our environment, and aren’t as scary as you might think.
Often having the undeserved reputation of nighttime villain, these furry, winged mammals consume huge numbers of night-flying insects, pollinate plants, and disperse seeds. They also produce guano (their manure) that is rich in nitrogen, a natural product used to fertilize lawns and gardens. As long as they’re not roosting under your roof, it’s a good thing to have them flitting about your garden while you sleep.
More than two-thirds of bat species consume night-time insects like moths, gnats, beetles, and crickets. A single little brown bat can eat up to a thousand mosquito-sized insects in a single hour while a nursing mother will devour the equivalent of her body weight each night.
Insect-eating bats roost in tree foliage and cavities, under loose bark and in caves and crevices. As their natural habitats continue to disappear, more species are taking up residence in buildings and homes. Mounting a bat house on your property is one way to provide a safe place for them to live while protecting your garden from night-flying insects.
Bats are also important pollinators – over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. Bats help spread seeds for nuts, figs, and cacao — the main ingredient in chocolate!
Some evening find a spot in the garden right after sunset, and for the next hour, watch for these shy little critters swooping about in search of a meal. With a little information and understanding, you can protect a piece of their habitat right in your own back yard and reap the benefits of natural pest control.
Click here to learn more about bats.