Posted 17 Oct 2016
Wild About Gardens Week runs from 24-30 October 2016.
Brown Long Eared Bat
Why should I welcome bats into my garden?
Pest species of moth that will also likely end up as bat prey include tortrix moths, nibbler of many ornamental plants, especially conservatory favourites such as citrus; codling moth, familiar to any gardener who has bitten into a maggoty apple, and leek moth, the bane of leek growers
According to the Bat Conservation Trust, the presence of bats, whose numbers have declined over the last 50 years, is an indication of a healthy, insect-rich environment.
What plants do Bats like ?
Try to introduce a range of plants that will encourage moths and other food sources for bats into the garden, Bostock advises. Flowers with long, narrow petal tubes are favoured by moths; only their long tongues can reach deep down to the hidden nectar. Short-tongued insects, including many families of flies and some moths, can only reach nectar in flowers with short florets.
Adult moths are lured towards paler coloured flowers which show up at dusk such as hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), night-scented flowers such as evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) and night-scented stock, long tubular flowers including common honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) and Verbena bonariensis, open flowers such as cosmos and bishop's weed (Ammi majus), and aquatic plants such as aromatic water mint or purple loosestrife. Native plants attract far more species of insect than hybrids or exotics, so they should be used as much as possible.
We're only likely to see bats in the summer, about an hour before dusk, when they are foraging for food for their young.
How can gardeners attract Bats into the garden ?
- Plant insect-friendly flowers such as Michaelmas daisies - these will attract insects such as moths and make a 'bat
- Stop mowing a patch of lawn to let the grass grow long, creating a habitat for insect larvae
- Retain mature trees in a garden; those with hollows can make excellent bat roosts
- Start a compost heap; lots of bat prey will live in it
- If space allows, build a small pond or water feature - midges and aquatic larvae are the favourites of the pipistrelle
- Reduce light pollution which disorientates bats - fit hoods to security lighting and only use low intensity garden
- Avoid pesticides in the garden, especially insecticides that will reduce the prey of bats
- In summer, keep cats indoors an hour before sunset when bats emerge from their roosts
Put up Bat Boxes
by Simon Byland